Systematics and Evolution in Asteraceae
The Compositae (Asteraceae) family is the largest flowering plant on earth comprising at least 25,000-35,000 species. The family includes critical members of threatened ecosystems and invasives, as well as numerous crops important for agriculture, medicine, and industry. Evolutionary and agricultural studies have been slowed in the family due to a lack of genetic and genomic resources. We have developed the tools necessary to enable the rapid sequencing of large numbers of orthologous genes in order to facilitate efficient evolutionary analyses and the testing of hypotheses of phenotypic evolution across the family. These data were recently used to understand the backbone evolution in the family, see the paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here.
Research Collaborators: The Smithsonian Institute, Oklahoma State University, and University of Arizona
Evolutionary genetics and genomics
We use evolutionary genetic and genomic approaches and tools to ask a variety of questions in our lab. In rare or endangered species, we are interested in the effects of rarity and habitat loss on standing levels of genetic diversity in plant populations. We are interested in the effects of mating system and life history on the spatial structure and genetic diversity. In our lab, we also develop population genetic tools for investigating patterns of clonal genetic diversity. Through genome sequencing and evolutionary genetic analyses, we ask questions about genome conflict and the consequences of organellar heteroplasmy and Non-Mendelian inheritance.
Research Collaborators: Nantucket Conservation Foundation
Transgene risk escape via pollen flow in crops
Gene flow between genetically modified crops and their wild relatives has the potential to enhance weediness and/or invasiveness of wild species. In the United States, invasive species have major negative impacts on natural ecosystems, leading to billions of dollars per year in economic and environmental damages, and invasive species are often responsible for the displacement and/or extirpation of native species. We study the potential for gene flow between cultivated carrot and its wild, weedy (admittedly pretty) progenitor, Queen Anne’s Lace using a variety of genetic, genomics, and greenhouse studies. We also investigate heteroplasmy of both the mitochondrial and plastid genomes. #Iheartheteroplasmy USDA-NIFA, Project summary
Research Collaborators: Vanderbilt University