Lead


Lay summary

Millions species are living on the earth with astonishing diversity. Darwin proposed the first conclusive theory to explain organismal diversity with two principles: adaptation by natural selection, and speciation. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms responsible for the diversity. The key to interdisciplinary study of biodiversity is evolutionary genomics. The basic data of evolutionary genomics is genomic information of multiple individuals of a species. Using such information, evolutionary genomics integrates ecology and molecular genetics in both directions. First, ecologically relevant genes can be identified by association mapping, quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, microarray or comparative genomics. Second, the adaptive meaning of a trait in nature can be shown by population genomic analysis. Adaptive evolution is the change of genomic constitution of the next generation due to survival and reproduction, and it leaves the molecular signatures of natural selection. To address questions on adaptation and speciation, we will use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and its relatives, which has enormous amount of genomic and genetic information available, and its relatives. Our previous analysis supported Darwin’s reproductive assurance model stating that selfing may be advantageous when mates are scarce (Tsuchimatsu et al. Nature 464, 1342, 2010). This proposal will contribute to two fundamental and broad questions in evolutionary biology: which genes are responsible for adaptation and for speciation? What evolutionary processes affect allele frequency of these genes? Our website is: http://www.botinst.uzh.ch/research/genomics/shimizu.html