The broad goal of our research is to understand evolution in natural populations. We are especially interested in the evolutionary implications of ecological interactions between plants and other organisms, including herbivores, pathogens, and mutualists. We study ecological and genetic mechanisms that influence the evolution of traits important to these interactions. We also apply ecological and evolutionary theory to plant conservation and control of invasive species.
Ongoing projects in the lab include examining:
- evolution of mutualistic traits in legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria,
- population genetic structure of N-fixing Bradyrhizobium of a wild legume community,
- character identification and genetics of lupine seed coat color polymorphisms, and
- the quantitative genetics of seed dormancy in bush lupine.
Current graduate students are studying
- mechanisms by which lupines prevent cheating by nitrogen-fixing bacteria,
- heavy metal sequestration in herbivore defense of serpentine plants,
- microbial population structure,
- population establishment and invasion,
- evolution of flowering time in response to anthropogenic disturbance, and
- Evolution in a community of figs and fig-wasps.
Past graduate students have studied population genetics of clonally reproducing orchids, inbreeding depression in Lobelia cardinalis, symbiotic specificity of orchid-mycorrhizal interactions in Cypripedium spp., and the evolution of seed dispersal in Cakile edentula.
Palomino, M. T., P. G. Kennedy, E. L. Simms. 2007. Nickel hyperaccumulation as an anti-herbivore trait: considering the role of tolerance to damage. Plant and Soil 293:189-195.
Shefferson, R. P. and E. L. Simms. 2007. Costs and benefits of fruiting to future reproduction in two dormancy-prone orchids. Journal of Ecology 95:865-875.
Sachs, J. L. and E. L. Simms. 2006. Instability of mutualisms: Pathways to mutualism breakdown. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 21(10):585-592.
Simms, E. L., D. L. Taylor, J. Povich, R. P. Shefferson, J. D. Sachs, Y. Tausczik, M. Urbina. 2005. An empirical test of partner choice mechanisms in a legume-rhizobium interactions. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B, Proc. Royal Soc. Series B 273 (1582): 77-81.
2005. Hausmann, J., T. E. Juenger, S. Sen, K. A. Stowe, T. E. Dawson, E. L. Simms. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting ï¤13C and response to differential water availability in Arabidopsis thaliana. Evolution 59(1):81-96.
Juenger, T., S. Sen, K. Stowe, and E. L. Simms. 2005. Epistasis and gene-environment interaction for quantitative trait loci affecting flowering time inArabidopsis. Genetica, 123(1-2):87-105.
Shefferson, R.P., J. Proper, S.R. Beissinger, and E.L. Simms. 2003. Dormancy and life history trade-offs in a terrestrial slipper orchid: An analysis using mark-recapture statistics. Ecology 84(5):1199-1206.
Simms, E.L., and D.L. Taylor. 2002. Partner choice in nitrogen fixation mutualisms of legumes and rhizobia. Integ. & Comp. Biol. 42(2):369-380.
West, S.A., E.T. Kiers, E.L. Simms, and R.J. Denison. 2002. Nitrogen fixation and the stability of the legume-rhizobium mutualism. Proc. Royal Soc. London Series B 269:685-694.
Chase, J.M., M.A. Leibold, and E.L. Simms. 2001. Plant tolerance and resistance in food webs: Community-level predictions and evolutionary implications. Evol. Ecol. 14:289-314.
Bever, J.D. and E.L. Simms. 2000. Evolution of nitrogen fixation in spatially structured populations of Rhizobium. Heredity 85:366-372.