Arguably the most ubiquitous phenomenon in the living world, sex is a driving force in plant evolution. While most angiosperms reproduce by production of hermaphroditic flowers with both male and female organs, there exists a small fraction of plants that reproduce through dioecy - the condition of having separate male and female individuals. I work primarily in Asparagus, where dioecy is mediated by the presence of a recently evolved, active sex chromosome pair. I am broadly interested in the genomic changes underlying this transition from hermaphroditism to dioecy, as well as functionally characterizing the genes and regulatory elements that control gender determination in Asparagus officinalis. I am also fascinated by the role of polyploidy in plant genome evolution, and the detection of these events through high-throughput mRNA sequencing.
Systematics, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Evolutionary Biology