Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Michele Guidone


Plants in the genus Smilax are known to display a wide range of characteristics, including various leaf morphologies and color variants. These features have been hypothesized to be adaptations to repel herbivores, making them an ideal candidate for leaf miner studies. To test these hypotheses, I conducted observational research using local species of Smilax found in Georgia. Plants were collected and analyzed based on several morphological traits, such as leaf size and presence of mottling, which were then compared to frequency and relative location of leaf miner attacks on each plant. My research of local Smilax plants found no relationship between mine presence and leaf shape or leaf mottling. I also found no difference in frequency of attacks related to the leaf’s location on a given plant.

Thesis Summary

Plants within the Smilacaceae family are abundant and well recognized in many parts of the world for their range of morphological characteristics. These plants have been shown to have several beneficial, or costly, effects on their environments. They have also proven themselves to be useful organisms in the study of insect herbivory, or leaf miners. I conducted observational research to more closely examine the relationship between Smilax morphology and leaf miner damage. While no significant relationship was found in my data, further study of the organisms would be beneficial to the field.