Current Research

Understanding adaptation to new and changing environments

The responses of species and populations to challenging environments are of immense interest in the face of anthropogenic environmental threats, but are poorly understood. What genetic and genomic changes are associated with adaptive evolution? What is the role of phenotypic plasticity in determining adaptive outcomes? I will address these questions using the diverse and ecologically important fungi in the genus Tetracladium (Ascomycota). Using genetic, genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and experimental approaches, I will: identify variation associated with different and extreme environments; identify how populations persist in polluted rivers; determine what separates the “winners” from the “losers” in adaptation to pollution. This research addresses key questions in evolutionary biology from SNPs to species, at a level of detail unrealistic to achieve in most eukaryotic organisms, and using natural populations of ecologically important non-model organisms.

Online now Upsetting the balance of resource allocation (Anderson, Nieuwenhuis, and Johannesson ongoing).

How do organisms allocate resources to different aspects of life and what are the consequences of differences in this allocation?
To explore these questions at both genetic and phenotypic levels I generated a genetically heterogeneous population of the fungus Neurospora crassa which contains genes from 20 naturally isolated
strains and performed selection experiments to bias resource allocation toward reproduction or growth. I used RADseq to genotype the parental lines, individuals from the heterogeneous population, and the evolved lines. I have also measured growth rate and spore production in these individuals in two conditions. Using this massive data set, I will determine whether biasing resource allocation toward growth or reproduction influences investment in the other and identify regions of the genome associated with the response to selection (population genomic comparisons between ancestral population and evolved lines). In addition to addressing important questions in life history evolution, this study represents a new approach for experimental study using Neurospora, which has previously been largely limited to studies of single strains and genetic mutants.

Jennifer Anderson Ph.D.


Uppsala University

Dept. of Systematic Biology

Norbyägen 18D
752 36 Uppsala