Omics of adaptation to changing/novel environments in plants
Barbara Mable/ James Buckley
The effect of climate change on cultivated plants is a major concern for food security. Sustainable crops should have flexibility to adapt to novel and variable environments and to resist new pathogens and predators but many cultivated plants are inbred to homogenise production traits. Modern "omic" technologies provide unprecedented opportunities to evaluate the consequences of the resulting loss of genetic diversity and heterozygosity for responding to changing conditions. Training of ecologists and evolutionary biologists in the informatics required to analyse these data is essential for advancement of knowledge.
This project will: 1) investigate changes in metabolic profiles of inbred and outcrossed plants raised in a common garden experiment, under static and naturally varying environmental conditions; 2) provide training in analysis of metabolomics data for an eco-evolutionary biologist who promises to be a leader in investigations of how interactions among organisms (pathogens, pollinators) affect adaptive potential.