GALAPAGOS SCIENCE CENTER

Grass Genomes X Environments: A hypothesis/discovery-based approach connecting genome with the phenome of plant habit and behavior in natural settings

Unraveling the rules of life requires that we understand how the total collection of genes shapes life form, physiology, and behavior.  Here, we take an integrative approach to this question by characterizing the genomes of a phenotypically diverse, yet monophyletic, set of grasses from Ecuador. These grasses live in diverse habitats ranging from the Galapagos Islands, the Paramo’ (alpine tundra), the rain forest, and riparian and littoral zones.  These grasses also have a wide range of habits (tillering vs vines vs. bushy vs. tree-like), autotrophic metabolism (C3 vs. C4 carbon fixation), and survival strategies (perennial vs. annual). The question to be addressed is what genes/alleles shape certain morphologies/physiologies as expressed in a real environment, as opposed to a controlled lab environment.  This project brings together two basic disciplines: botany and genomics but extends the connections into cell and developmental biology.  This project is a strong collaboration with researchers at the University of San Francisco at Quito.