Srignanakshi Iyer

Srignanakshi Iyer


Tel.: +41 (0) 44 634 83 29

Research Interests

My research involves studying the molecular basis of pollinator attraction. I am studying this phenomenon in the orchid genus Ophrys. These orchids attract male pollinators by mimicking the sex pheromones of their females. The pheromones produced by the plants are part of their floral odours and importantly include hydrocarbon compounds such as alkenes. Several different species of Ophrys produce different alkene blends to attract specific pollinators. Such odour bouquets differ primarily in the position of double bonds and the carbon chain lengths of the alkenes. One aim of my PhD research is to understand the molecular basis of chain length differences. This will involve analysis of components of elongase enzymes, namely ketoacyl coenzyme A synthases (KCSs).

 I will also aim to investigate the mechanisms underlying parallel adaptive divergence for controlling pollinator specificity. This will be done by comparison of two pairs of closely related taxa from the genus Ophrys, one pair each from the O. sphegodes and O. fusca groups.  My thesis research will be important to understand orchid ecological speciation and pollinator adaptation in a parallel evolution framework.


  • 2015- PhD in Plant Science at the University of Zurich.

Topic: Molecular basis of parallel evolutionary divergence by differential pollinator attraction

  • 2012-2015 – Master of science in Biology, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich

Master thesis topic: Characterisation of low oxygen sensing RAP2.12 over expressers of Arabidopsis thaliana.

  • 2008-2012- Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology, VTU, India.