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Apr 26 2022

E&E Seminar: “Phylogenomic approaches to studying plant diversity and evolution, from genes to species” by Norm Wickett (Chicago Botanic Garden)

April 26, 2022

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

a man in a blue shirt and blue hat and glasses next to program details on a blue background.


4289 SELE


Chicago, IL 60612

Join us on April 26th, 2022 at noon in SEL4289 for "Phylogenomic approaches to studying plant diversity and evolution, from genes to species" by Norm Wickett (Chicago Botanic Garden)

Host: Joe Walker

Abstract: My research is focused on understanding the origin and maintenance of plant diversity at multiple phylogenetic scales. To do this, I use phylogenomic methods, which can provide a robust framework for testing hypotheses; however, the term 'phylogenomics' can have multiple meanings. While systematists often use the term to mean phylogenetic reconstruction using hundreds of genes sampled from throughout the genome, it can also refer to the inference of gene function using phylogenetics. In this talk, I will present examples of how I employ both applications of phylgenomics to study plant diversity in the evening primrose family. I will focus on diversity at the family level (Onagraceae), within one genus (Oenothera), and within a single species. For this latter case, I will discuss an intraspecific polymorphism for floral scent in Oenothera harringtonii. This species is a hawkmoth-pollinated, narrow Colorado endemic that is polymorphic for one component of its flora scent, the monoterpene linalool, which is either present or absent. While floral scent is often considered to function as a pollinator attractant, in this case the linalool polymorphism may be related to differential loads of seed predators. Given that linalool may be at the nexus of multiple plant-insect interactions and may play a critical role in structuring population-level diversity, we undertook a tissue-specific study of differential gene expression and incorporated phylogenomic methods to describe a candidate gene for linalool biosynthesis. We then characterized the allelic diversity of this gene and suggest that the genomic region in which it is found may have undergone a recent selective sweep in linalool producing populations. In all examples, I will demonstrate the power of using a data-rich and phylogeny-aware approach to studying organismal diversity.


Emily Beaufort

Date posted

Aug 27, 2021

Date updated

Apr 19, 2022