ViPS Invited Seminar April 2019
Jim Leebens-Mack, University of Georgia, USA

Date: 17th April 2019

Time: 13:15

Title: Plant Phylogenomics: Comparative Analyses of Plant Genes and Genomes

Location: Seminar room 172, Korona Info Centre, Viikinkaari 11

Host: Teemu Teeri

Abstract: "Phylogenomics" research includes the application of genome-scale data for estimation of species relationships and comparative analyses of genome structure and content within the context of a species phylogeny.  I will present examples of how we are using genome and transcriptome data to resolve relationships among plant species and using the resulting species phylogenies to elucidate genomic features associated with evolutionary innovations. Comparisons of plant genomes across the flowering plant phylogeny are yielding estimates of genome structure and gene content in the last common ancestor or all flowering plants. These analyses also implicate polyploidization as a source of genetic material for evolutionary innovations including the origin of the flower and nodulation with papillionoid legumes. At the same time, phylogenomic analyses within groups of closely related species and genotypes within species are advancing understanding of the genetic basis of phenotypic variation. For example, analysis of closely related CAM and C3 species within the Agavoideae (Agave, Yucca and relatives) suggests that shifts in expression of canonical CAM genes may predate the origin of CAM. Within the genus Asparagus, comparisons of male and female genotypes among dioecious species have allowed us to identify the sex determination genes and the earliest steps in sex chromosome evolution. These and other examples illustrate the utility of genome data for resolving gene and species relationships, and the power of phylogenetically grounded comparative genomic analyses.


Jim's research group employs genomic, phylogenetic and experimental analyses to investigate the genetic and ecology processes that influence diversification. Specific interests include the molecular genetics of diversification including speciation; the molecular basis of adaptation; the evolution of genome structure; genomic processes influencing gene family evolution; the evolutionary consequences of species interactions; and the coevolution of genes interacting in regulatory and developmental pathways.

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