Peakall Group - Pollination, evolution and conservation

Sexually-deceptive orchid being pollinated by a wasp. Photo: Rod Peakall

Research in the Peakall Group is focused on the development and application of DNA based genetic markers for investigating a range of pure and applied questions in evolutionary and conservation biology. The integration of ecological, population genetic and molecular tools allows novel insights that are not possible on their own.

Our study organisms include plants, mammals, birds, insects and fungi. Studies of orchids feature strongly, but by no means exclusively, in greater part because their novel pollination systems are ideal for exploring a range of evolutionary questions. Our research provides exciting opportunities for collaborative multidisciplinary research spanning reproductive ecology, genetics, phylogeny, biochemistry and chemical ecology.

Group  awards



Rod Peakall

Rod Peakall
Rod Peakall completed his BSc (Hons) in 1984 and PhD in 1987, both at the University of Western Australia (UWA), before taking...

Divisional Visitor

Honours Student

PhD Student

Postdoctoral Fellow

Technical Officer


Selected publications

News & events


La trobe Uni logo
Congratulations to Ryan Phillips who has been appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Plant Ecology at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
Broad lipped bird orchid with its male pollinator N. cryptoides
In the first study of its kind researchers have gone beyond looking at the attraction of smell to investigate the role of flower shape and size in sexually deceptive orchids.
Kneeling hammer orchid. Credit: Ryan Phillips
The study investigated Western Australian populations of a rare orchid, and discovered that one population attracted a novel, common species of wasp pollinator in addition to a known rare wasp species.
ARC logo
The School has done very well with regards to Discovery projects and DECRA fellowships. Congratulations to all successful applicants.



Pollination of the Spider orchid Caladenia crebra by the Thynnine wasp Campylothynnus flavopictus

Molecular mimicry and sexual deception

A team of chemists and biologists at both the ANU and the University of Western Australia (UWA) have been investigating and discovering what draws pollinators (such as wasps) to orchids.
Pollination of the Spider orchid Caladenia crebra by the Thynnine wasp Campylothynnus flavopictus

Molecular mimicry and sexual deception

Orchids are valued the world-over for their delicate beauty and fragrance, but for wasps they hold a different kind of appeal: sex appeal.

Rod Peakall

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Three tricks orchids use to lure pollinating insects

Research on sexually deceptive orchids by Rod Peakall and Ryan Phillips has been featured by BBC Earth.

Updated:  14 October 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB