Evolutionary Dynamics Underlying Species Diversification

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


This project aims to integrate molecular, population genetic, computational and theoretical approaches to provide a detailed quantitative understanding of mechanisms underlying species diversity. Natural variation at three key loci controlling flower colour, ROS EL and SULF, will be characterised at various temporal, spatial and genetic scales. At the smallest spatial and temporal scale, fitness and gene flow will be directly measured in a hybrid zone population segregating for different morphs. This will be achieved at individual resolution by exploiting high throughput methods for DNA fingerprinting and image analysis. These findings will be integrated with estimates of selection and dispersal based on marker studies at a medium population scale. Other loci at which selection may be acting at the hybrid zone will also be identified. The key flower colour loci will be compared in different species to determine the differences in sequence and expression that underlie species differences. By looking at closely linked markers we will also determine the extent to which selective sweeps have occurred at these loci. Theoretical frameworks will be developed to determine which fitness landscape topography provides the best explanation for all of the data. General tools, such as a physical map, will also be established to aid with gene and marker isolation. A database, ANTSPEC, will also be created to facilitate coordination, analysis, access and archiving of the data, methods, maps (genetic and physical), materials (e.g. BAC libraries), software and theories. Researchers will be trained with a novel combination of interdisciplinary skills. The project will therefore help forge a new and integrated understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms that underpin evolution and diversity and provide training and expertise in this interdisciplinary research area.


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