Evolutionary and ecological genomics of plant adaptations
We study the evolutionary forces that act in plant developmental networks at the species level, and in mapping and isolating genes that underlie natural variation in that are responsible for plant adaptation. We are also interested in exploring the “ecological transciptome” – the dynamic gene networks found in plants in ecological environments. This work combines concepts and techniques in evolutionary and quantitative genomics, developmental biology, evolutionary ecology, and computational biology.
Genetics of Plant Domestication
Crops are plant species that have evolved in a cultural context to provide food and other products for human society. Crop species are fascinating subjects for evolutionary study, since they are examples of species that have undergone rapid diversification under intense selection pressures. They also permit us to understand the dynamic interface between genetics, evolution and human culture. We are studying the evolution of genes in rice (Oryza sativa). By using tools of molecular and evolutionary genomics, these studies provide insights into the processes and mechanisms that accompany cultural selection on plant species during domestication events.
The Evolution of Multicellularity and Social Behaviour
The model protist Dictyostelium discoideum has been a model for the study of social biology as well as the evolution of multicellularity. We are integrating techniques and approaches in population genetics, genomics, systems biology and glycomics to study kin discrimination and recognition in this social microbe.