Genomic study of native and endemic grasses of the Galapagos Islands and the Mainland
Researcher: Alan Jones, Corbin Jones and María de Lourdes Torres
Unraveling the rules of life requires that we understand how the total collection of genes is associated with life form and behavior. We propose to sequence the genomes of an informative set of grasses from Ecuador. There, the grasses are found in different habitats such as the Galapagos Islands (maritime), the Paramo’ (alpine tundra), the rainforest, and riparian and littoral zones.
Grasses are also chosen for this study because they are a relatively-tight monophyletic group that has 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 are associated with certain morphologies/physiologies as expressed in a real environment, as opposed to a controlled lab environment. This first of its kind project brings together two basic disciplines: botany and genomics but extends into cell and developmental biology.