Our research examines the genetic basis for natural variation in plant form and its relationship to fitness.
Part of our work uses closely related Antirrhinum (snapdragon) species which have diverse forms and are adapted to different, often extreme environments (e.g., mountains and deserts), but can hybridise with each other and with the genetic model, A. majus. This is allowing the genetics, genomics and computation biology resources that have been developed in A. majus to be used to identify the genes that underlie species differences.
We also make use of local populations of the cruciferous weed, Arabidopsis thaliana, which vary for many genetically determined traits, including flowering time, resistance to herbivores and growth rate. We have mapped some of the relevant genes, have tested their effects on plant fitness under natural and controlled conditions and examining their variation in local populations to determine whether their diversity reflects adaptation to local environments.