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Pathways, ecological and genomic consequences of genome duplication in Arabidopsis arenosa, an overlooked diploid-polyploid member of the model genus Arabidopsis (WILD ARABIDOPSIS)
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project addresses critical gaps in our understanding of the role of genome duplication (polyploidy) in the genesis and maintenance of plant diversity. While polyploidization is widely acknowledged as a major speciation mechanism in land plants, little is still known about the performance, dynamics, and evolutionary potential of wild polyploid lineages. In my project I propose an interdisciplinary research at the interface between plant systematics, population genetics, and ecological and evolutionary genomics. I will use the novel rapidly developing high throughput sequencing (HTS) techniques which open previously unseen opportunities for studying complex evolutionary processes in plant populations. The potential of such methods in deciphering complex polyploid genomes is, however, still limited mainly due to insufficient knowledge of the genome of the wild plant under study. My project will overcome this gap as it focuses on Arabidopsis arenosa, an overlooked yet extremely promising species that represents the closest wild di-polyploid relative to the key plant model system A. thaliana. I intend to bring and analyze my unique comprehensive set of A arenosa samples (>120 populations) at University of Oslo – a renowned research institution with wide experience in HTS applications and data handling. I aim to examine the overall genetic structure of the species, reveal evolutionary history of the polyploid lineages, and assess the diversity of candidate loci under selection across the species’ range. The project will advance our understanding of evolution and diversity of plant systems, with practical implications in biodiversity conservation, agriculture, and pharmacology. In the course of the project I will significantly improve my skills of leading-edge scientific methods (analyses of high-throughput sequence data) and I will strengthen my position as an independent scientist by getting training in project management and international collaboration.

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