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Mr Benjamin Fisk

Postgraduate Student, Graduate Student Representative 2019/20
Mr Benjamin Fisk
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 333934; 330212

Biography:

Ben is currently studying for a PhD, funded by a Sainsbury PhD Studentship.

Ben joined the lab in October 2019 after completing his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Oxford. In the summer of 2018, Ben qualified as an IUCN Red List assessor and spent a month working at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, where he classified the extinction risk of nine species of Cola tree. He spent a further month assisting researchers in Madagascar, using a grant from Somerville College. 

He has been passionate about the natural world for as long as he can remember and is excited to be able to spend the course of his PhD studying one area of it in detail.  

 

Research Interests

Ben’s research is focused on understanding the evolution and development of nectar spurs. Spurs are tubular outgrowths, usually of sepals or petals, that contain nectar. By holding the floral reward (nectar) at the end of such a tube, spurred flowers have some say in which pollinators can feed from them, thus adding specificity to plant-pollinator interactions and increasing pollination efficiency. Spurs also represent a focal point for evolution, as small changes in spur characteristics can cause pollinator shifts, and thus evoke reproductive isolation (a key precursor for speciation). Ben is working with an Iberian clade of Linaria (toadflax) to learn more about which genes play a role in building a nectar spur. This will involve taking various genetic approaches to identify candidate genes of interest, and attempting transformation, VIGS, and transcriptome experiments to determine the necessity and sufficiency of identified genes in building a spur.

 

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