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Spatially explicit mechanisms of Recent EVOLution in an African biodiversity hotspot (REVOL)
Start date: Jul 1, 2013, End date: Aug 31, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Biodiversity hotspots are regions where exceptional concentrations of endemic species face extraordinary levels of habitat loss. The evolutionary processes determining the genesis and maintenance of such high biodiversity are poorly understood. REVOL uses population genomics in a multi-disciplinary context to uncover the neutral and adaptive evolutionary processes responsible for recent and ongoing plant species diversification and persistence in the Cape Floristic Region, a biodiversity hotspot in South Africa. Restriction Site Associated Sequencing (RAD-Seq) and chloroplast DNA sequences will be used in two Restionaceae and two Proteaceae species. Range-wide phylogeographic structure analysis, coalescent modelling of demographic history and tests for range dynamics will inform on neutral processes – genetic drift, neutral mutations and gene flow patterns – in each taxon. On this demo-historical background, neutrality and outlier tests will identify candidate genes under selection and Bayesian geographical analysis will establish gene-environment correlations. Analysis of spatio-temporal congruence of neutral processes across taxa and comparison of adaptive processes will inform wether populations and species have undergone parallel selection, similar demography, or shared phylogeographic history. The application of innovative technology and analytical methods to original biological study groups will yield novel evolutionary insights. Identification of drivers of recent evolution will improve environmental niche modelling predictions under climate change, leading to better management for conservation and sustainable use of African biodiversity, which will enable socio-economic benefits. REVOL will increase the applicant’s competitiveness for career consolidation through training in adaptive population genomics and bioinformatics and through strengthening her publication skills, her collaborative network and her mentoring, leadership and research management skills."
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