Evolution, eDNA, Genomics and Ethnobotany (EDGE)
The EDGE group is composed of an interdisciplinary group of researchers interested in areas ranging from plant speciation and phylogenomics, the development of metabarcoding as a next-generation biodiversity assessment tool for society, and people's influence on wild plants through use and trade throughout history.
Research in the EDGE group revolves around fundamental questions such as:
- What are the drivers and mechanisms responsible for the elevated speciation rates observed in northern plants?
- What are the ecological and climatic correlations for biodiversity generation in arctic and alpine areas as inferred from dated, fossil-calibrated phylogenies and metabarcoding data?
- What is the potential of new genomic approaches to improve extraction and use of the vast information stored in ancient permafrost DNA archives and modern sediments?
- How were plants used during the Viking age? How did human migratory patterns influence plants?
- When plant DNA is not present, as is often the case in historical samples, what other tools can be used for plant identification?
The EDGE group strives to strengthen the position of the Natural History Museum as one of the world's leading centers for development of DNA metabarcoding for research as well as for meeting the society's need for high-quality automated biodiversity assessment. To support this role, the group curates and develops plant metabarcoding taxonomic reference libraries, such as the NHM DNA bank, as an infrastructure for collaborative research efforts, natural resource management, and monitoring of international plant trade. The EDGE group additionally takes advantage of the incredible outreach opportunities offered by the Natural History Museum to promote citizen-led science and educate the population on the central role that plants play in our lives in the present as well as in the past.