Evolutionary and ecological genetics

A central focus of evolutionary biology is to understand the origin and maintenance of biodiversity. To better understand how populations adapt and split into new species, we require knowledge on the genetic changes involved, as well as the strengths of ecological and evolutionary processes needed to generate and maintain variation across the genome.

Our research focuses on a range of topics related to plant ecology and evolution including local adaptation, speciation and mating systems. We primarily study the ecological and genetic mechanisms underlying reproductive isolation and speciation in the genus Antirrhinum (snapdragons). This is a uniquely tractable system that allows the integration of molecular genetics, population genomics and ecological studies in the wild to get at the agents and mechanisms of selection. The genus displays remarkable variation in life history traits, habitat and flower colour and yet the species remain interfertile. Some of questions we are addressing:

1) what are the forces that generate and maintain variation within and among populations and species?

2) what can spatial patterns in phenotypic and genetic variation tell us about divergent selection and where it operates in the genome?

3) what is the structure of the fitness landscape and how does this change with local ecological context?

4) what are the limits of inference of signatures of selection from patterns in genomic data?

We use an integrative approach including manipulative experiments in the field (on plants and pollinators), quantitative genetics, bioinformatics and genomic analysis, comparative meta-analysis and theory to answer these questions and investigate processes from micro- to macro-evolutionary time scales.

We also work on applied topics such as genetic rescue, and developing new methods for population genetic and genomic analyses for spatial data and polyploids.

Potential students and postdocs. If these topics interest you and you want to get involved, read more below and contact me.