Ecological adaptation to environmental change

Rapid environmental change challenges plant survival and persistence. In response to this challenge, plants have to migrate or adapt in situ. As many species are unlikely able to track the moving environmental envelope, their adaptive responses are critical. We study the ecological mechanisms that confer/constrain plant adaptation in changing environments.

In particular, we assess a long-lasting, but rarely tested, hypothesis that plants with multiple sets of chromosomes (polyploids) outperform diploids in response to environmental change, owing to enhanced adaptive plasticity, phenotypic divergence, and phyllosphere and rhizosphere microbiome. We use wild strawberries (Fragaria) as a model system.


Current Projects and Questions

i) How do functional traits and trait plasticity confer polyploid advantage?

ii) How does microbiome contribute to polyploid advantage in response to environmental change?

Eco-evolutionary dynamics of plant–microbiome interactions

Plants harbor rich communities of microbial symbionts. This collection of microbiota is considered part of the extended plant phenotype, and profoundly influences plant adaptation to environment.

Using strawberries 🍓(Fragaria) and apples 🍎(Malus) and their wild relatives as model systems, we address how host genetics, functional traits, and (abiotic and biotic) environments shape the assembly and network of this extended plant phenotype, and how microbiome in turn affects host ecology and evolution.

Current Projects and Questions

i) What are the principles governing microbiome assembly and network in plants?

ii) What are the functions of plant microbiome (e.g. stress tolerance, disease resistance, nutrient acquisition, pollination)?

Genomics of adaptation

Local adaptation is ubiquitous in nature. Understanding its genomic basis is of particular relevance to environmental change, food sustainability, and genetic conservation. We study the genetic mechanisms that favor/constrain local adaptation.


Current Projects and Questions

i) What is the genetic architecture of ecological adaptation to environmental change?

ii) How does genetic variation shaped by past selection influence adaptive responses to future environmental scenarios?