Speciation in co-evolved taxa: sexually-deceptive orchids and their mycorrhizal symbionts

The proposed PhD research program will use the relationship between the orchid genera Chiloglottis and Arthrochilus and their obligate mycorrhizae to examine speciation in co-evolved taxa. It has been suggested the evolution of the recently diverged Chiloglottis may be attributable to its association with a particular mycorrhizal species however evolution of this sexually-deceptive orchid genus is known to be influenced by a species-specific pollinator relationships.

This project will therefore investigate speciation across three tiers of co-evolution. Using the genus Arthrochilus as a test system, comparisons of phylogenies and ecological, biological and biogeographical information will be used to investigate this hypothesis.