Characterizing landscape genomics and reconstructing pathways to plant ecological specialization and speciation

Science Center Objects

This proposal brings together biologists and geoscientists to evaluate the evolution of stress tolerance and adaptation to extreme environments in plants. Stress tolerance has been studied mainly from a physiological perspective using laboratory and field experiments. In contrast, this project will take a combined environmental and evolutionary perspective using national public databases and a ...

This proposal brings together biologists and geoscientists to evaluate the evolution of stress tolerance and adaptation to extreme environments in plants. Stress tolerance has been studied mainly from a physiological perspective using laboratory and field experiments. In contrast, this project will take a combined environmental and evolutionary perspective using national public databases and a “big data” approach. Thus the proposal will illustrate an application of spatially integrated big datasets for basic research, a synthesis goal of the Powell Center. We will use the geochemical and mineralogical data from the USGS Soil Geochemical Landscapes of the Conterminous United States Project, digital elevation and terrain data, Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) data, USDA soil databases, publicly available molecular data such as the NSF-sponsored Open Tree of Life, bio- and eco-informatics, and spatial modelling to address several questions of fundamental importance in ecology and evolution:

What is the relative role of climate and soil in plant community assembly?

What is the role of geochemistry in habitat differentiation and speciation?

What is the role of climate and geochemistry in invasiveness?

How do plant lineages adapt to extreme environments (are there traits that confer adaptive ability to a wide range of stresses ;what are these traits; how do they arise?)

We will focus on two of the largest plant families in North America (and globally): Asteraceae (daisy family, 2203 sp.) and Poaceae (grass family, 969 sp.). These two plant families are important for both environmental (biological conservation, invasiveness) and economic (agriculture, weed control) reasons.

Principal Investigator(s):

Elisabeth Bui (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO))

David B Smith (Central Mineral Resources Team)

Martin B Goldhaber (Crustal Imaging and Characterization Team)

Participant(s):

Pierre Goovaerts (BioMedware)

Joesph Miller (National Science Foundation)

Lisa A. Donovan (University of Georgia)

Nishanta Rajakaruna (College of the Atlantic)

Brian L. Anacker (University of California, Davis)

Susan Harrison (University of California, Davis)

Charlotte C. Germain-Aubrey (University of Florida)

Pamela Soltis (University of Florida)

Cliff Riebe (University of Wyoming)

James A. Thompson (West Virginia University)

Sharon Waltman (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Vicki Funk (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)