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Gordon G McNickle

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Assistant Professor
Lilly Hall Room 1238

 General Information

Research in my group investigates interactions among plants and other organisms as an evolutionary game. In a game (e.g. checkers) your probability of winning the match depends on your strategy, and the strategy of your opponent. If you think about interactions in nature, these interactions really possess all the essential features of a game: you have players (i.e. individuals of the same or different species); a payoff from success (i.e. surviving to reproduce) and; strategies (i.e. the genotype and phenotype of each player). Research in the lab tends to focus on belowground interactions, but and can include any form of biotic interaction from resource competition among plants or microbes, resource trading among plants and mutualistic partners, or resources lost through attack by enemies such as herbivores or pathogens. Research in the lab involves a mixture of empirical and theoretical tools to explore questions. I generally approach questions using three steps: (1) I like to try to think through how I imagine the system works and describe all my assumptions and ideas with a mathematical model; (2) It can be useful to check some of these ideas and assumptions in the greenhouse with a model system. (The first and second step may go back and forth for a while, depending on how wrong I was in the first step.), and; (3) Once I feel like I understand the system I try to scale it up to natural ecological systems (e.g. a grassland or a forest).


Botany and Plant Pathology, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4614

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