We aim to understand how evolution finds solutions to tough circumstances, both environmental and intracellular. We do this by applying population genomics to wild populations that have overcome clearly definable, quantifiable hazards. That recent advances allow us to unambiguously identify candidate natural alleles underlying particular adaptations is revolutionary, making this a great time to apply population genomics to wild species.
By understanding natural solutions to important stressors — from tolerance of extreme levels of metal contamination, to the ability to thrive in high salt soils, to adaptation to the trauma of genome duplication — we will 1) inform an understanding of basic evolutionary processes and 2) help inform rational crop development to cope with a changing world.
Current research in the lab focusses on two adaptive challenges:
Genome Duplication. The most dramatic mutation is the duplication of an entire genome. Sudden genome doubling presents novel dynamics to the confined environment of the nucleus. How is this endured? Here’s what we’re learning.
Edaphic Extremophiles. We are focusing on adaptation to extreme soil conditions, from high salt soils to metal-contaminated barrens. The persistence of diverse species that can thrive in the face of these insults allows us to test for repeated evolution, flexibility of biochemical pathways, and constraint. Learn more here!
Upcoming talks, meetings:
Congrats to Silvia Busoms and Sian Bray – BOTH were selected to give talks at SMBE in Yokohama in July, along with Levi!
Congrats to Christian Sailer, who will be giving a talk at Evolution in Montpellier this August on our work on parallel evolution in Arabidopsis arenosa and Arabidopsis halleri.
Other than that Levi will be giving seminar in Oxford (May 24), Kihara Instute, Japan (July 9), and University of Bern (Sept 17)
Recently in JEB: The more we look around in our data the more we see signs of adaptive introgression. Check out our recent review on genetic transfers between populations, closely related species, and even kingdoms. Here we discuss two major classes of these scenarios, adaptive introgression and horizontal gene flow, illustrating discoveries made across kingdoms. We are currently writing up some exciting cases of adaptive gene flow in addition to examples of repeated evolution. (open access link)
In PNAS: We used the wild Arabidopsis arenosa system to identify candidate genes underlying serpentine adaptation and found evidence that some selected alleles were borrowed from a related species while others were repeatedly involved in separate adaptation events in different species. This suggests that migrant alleles may have facilitated adaptation of a specific A. arenosa population to this multi-hazard environment and provides a set of strong candidates for interspecies adaptive gene flow. (open access link)
If you have a serious passion for adaptation, consider joining us. Contact me if you are interested at email@example.com