Our lab addresses two of the most fundamental biological processes: adaptation (the fit of organisms to their environment) and speciation (the formation of new species). We are interested in long-standing questions such as: What processes are responsible for creating biodiversity, including new species? What genetic changes underlie adaptation to different environments? How important is adaptation in the evolution of reproductive barriers between species?
We use many approaches (including molecular genetics, recombinant species hybrids, experimental manipulations, mathematical models) and many techniques (including molecular genotyping, microscopy, greenhouse experiments, fieldwork) to answer these questions. We mostly work with the beautiful and diverse wild tomato group; these species are closely related to the domesticated tomato, but have incredible reproductive and ecological diversity, including in their responses to abiotic (e.g., water, salt, temperature) and biotic (e.g., natural predators) environments. Some current projects in the lab include:
- the genetics of divergence in male-female signals prior to fertilization
- the genetics of hybrid male and female sterility
- the ecology and genetics of natural plant defenses to herbivory
- the evolution and diversity of plant responses to environmental stress