Boechera: A model system for ecological and evolutionary genetics
Much of the work in our lab is in the genus Boechera, a native wildflower of the western US. Boechera offers two primary advantages as a study system: its genetic tractability and its ecological and evolutionary relevance.
As a close relative of Arabidopsis, Boechera provides access to genomic information and techniques from that model plant species. A GWAS population of sequenced B. stricta accessions from 500 populations across the western US allows us to identify the genes responsible for ecologically important trait variation, such as insect resistance, flowering time, and plant fitness in natural populations.
Our study populations are genetically and ecologically undisturbed, so evolutionary analyses can relate existing genetic variation to current and historical environmental contexts. Due to elevation gradients and geography, these populations have experienced heterogeneous environmental conditions, and they are locally adapted to some of these ecological differences. Extensive seed collections and established research sites enable large-scale field experiments.