*WINNER* Anatomical diversity of evolutionarily convergent egg mimics in passion flowers (Passiflora L.)


  • Charis Littell
  • Shawn Zeringue-Krosnick


Passiflora (passion flowers) is a large genus well known for its morphological diversity and close associations with butterflies. Many Passiflora possess structures that mimic butterfly eggs, discouraging gravid butterflies from laying eggs, thus reducing the number of caterpillars that would feed on the plant. These structures are varied in form and position and have evolved independently many times. This study will document and compare the structural homology of egg mimic structures in the genus. Multiple examples of egg mimics were paraffin embedded and sectioned with a microtome and stained to differentiate among the types of egg mimics. Preliminary results suggest that at least four classes of egg mimics exist: those derived from aborted flower buds, the leaf apex, the stipule apex, and from abaxial nectaries. These structures are not homologous but instead represent convergence in creating a visual display that confers a significant advantage in decreasing herbivory.