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Trait Evolution

Plants have evolved certain traits that enable them to survive and diversify over time. The history of genetic and genomic changes that have led to or even enabled trait evolution is one of the major focuses of the lab. Currently, graduate students are investigating the genetic mechanisms underlying various interesting traits that have evolved multiple times in land plants.

Joyce Chery is investigating the evolution of vascular cambium variants associated with the liana habit in Sapindaceae.

Jesus Martinez-Gomez is investigating the evolution of the Umbel, an inflorescence characteristic of onions (Allium) and amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae).

Carrie Tribble is investigating traits associated with underground storage organs (aka tubers) and the development of Tubers across the order Liliales and more specifically in the genus Bomarea (Alstroemeriaceae).

Former (and in some ways ongoing) investigations in the lab focused on thermogenesis in Cycads and carnivory in the Caryophyllales.  Some aspects of the thermogenesis work continue to be carried out by former undergraduate researcher Shayla Salzman, currently a graduate student at Harvard with Dr. Naomi Pierce.  The evolution of carnivory is being awesomely investigated by former graduate student Dr. Tanya Renner now at Penn State University.

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