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Important features of modern ecologies are the extreme mobility of species across a vast geography and the rapid rate of environmental change. How are species able to expand their ranges over heterogeneous landscapes? How are they able to respond to changing environmental conditions? Our research addresses evolutionary processes in variable ecological environments. Genotype-environment interactions are central to these processes.

A single genotype can alter its phenotype in response to the environment, through the process of phenotypic plasticity. We study environment-dependent phenotypic expression: what genetic, epigenetic, and developmental mechanisms enable environment-dependent phenotypes; what is the adaptive significance of phenotypic plasticity, and what are its evolutionary and demographic consequences?

Organisms can also alter the environment they experience, through the processes of habitat selection and niche construction. How do plants alter the environment they experience? How does this ability influence life-history expression, population demography, and evolutionary dynamics? To what extent does the environment that plants experience have a genetic basis?

We use a variety of plant systems to study the genetic and ecological basis of adaptation, especially as influenced by genotype-environment interactions.




Honors Student Corley Gibbs' Featured by Huff Post:

Corley Gibbs, an undergraduate lab alumnus, recently published an article about his honors thesis in the Huffington Post. "The Role of Duplicated Genes as Plants Respond to Environment" briefly describes Corley's project and his future plans. Congratulations to Corley Gibbs and Prof. Donohue for putting Duke Biology in the headlines!

Check out the article here.

Undergraduate Research Summer 2014:

George Schieder, IV

research supported by Howard Hughes VIP Program

George's research quantifies genetic variation in phenotypic plasticity associated with species interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana. He is performing controlled experiments in the lab and greenhouse to determine whether the expression of genetic variation in life history traits changes in response to interactions with neighbors, and he will be extending his summer research to identify genetic loci associated with those plastic responses.

Becky Li

research supported by Howard Hughes Research Fellows Program

Becky's research investigates how allelic variation in FLC, a well-known repressor of flowering time in plants, influences Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination in response to priming at low water potentials.

Hannah Neville

Hannah's research seeks to identify genes that integrate environmental information received throughout the plant life cycle. Her focus is on genes shared between the flowering and germination signaling pathways in Arabidopsis thaliana.


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