Ecological genetics and genomics
Evolutionary ecophysiology in native and invasive plants.
Understanding how plants are able to respond to natural selection in stressful environments requires an understanding of which ecological factors are important, the physiology that underlies response to environment and the genetic basis of that response. We investigate the importance of phenotypic plasticity and natural selection on response to native and invasive habitats. See also Phenotypic plasticity in the age of ’Omics.
Ecological genomics and systems biology in model and non-model plant systems. We use AFLP, RT-PCR, microarray and next gen sequencing technologies to compare genome wide gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana and non-model salt marsh plants under controlled and natural conditions. Understanding the emergent properties inherent to genome function requires an integrated approach of data from all levels of biology. We are using systems biology to more fully address the question of how organisms respond to environment by incorporating real field settings and experimental manipulation of relevant environmental factors.
Epigenetics in model, native and invasive species. We use methylation sensitive AFLP and experimental approaches to identify heritable epigenetic effects. Invasive species are able to adapt to novel, sometimes stressful environments with limited genetic variation or through hybridization, so epigenetic effects could be an important source of phenotypic variation. Similarly, native salt marsh plants may adjust quickly to stressful changes with epigenetic effects.