Wildarabidopsis project – Individual Marie Curie Fellowship (completed)
The genus Arabidopsis, comprising the leading model organism for plant genetic and evolutionary research A. thaliana, stands in main focus of plant science for over decades. Despite tremendous information resources are available on A. thaliana, its closest relatives moved into focus of plant evolutionary biology only quite recently and, in particular, still little is known about diversity patterns in wild populations across their nature distribution ranges. The project focuses on the least known representative of the genus, Arabidopsis arenosa, that represents an emerging model for evolution through genome duplication (polyploidy) and habitat adaptation. This diploid-autotetraploid species exhibits striking ecological amplitude over its native range in Europe spanning from coastal sand dunes and dry steppes in the foothills over rocks and screes on various substrates in mid-altitudes to alpine vegetation on the highest Carpathian summits. Based on an extensive available sampling of natural populations and using the state-of-the art high-throughput sequencing techniques, the project aims to examine the overall genetic structure of the species, reveal evolutionary history of the polyploid lineages, and assess the diversity of biologically important traits across the species’ range. In general the project addresses critical gaps in our understanding of the role of genome duplication in the genesis and maintenance of plant diversity and will provide important background for follow-up practical studies focused on biodiversity conservation, agricultural and genetic applications.