Abstracts (first author)
Epigenetic response to novel and changing environments
An essential component of deciphering the impact and long-term consequences of changing climatic conditions is understanding how organisms are able to respond to the environment. While studies interested in adaptation have focused on DNA sequence variation, and the assumption that trait variation is based on sequence variation, there is now pressing need to explore the role of epigenetic processes. Epigenetic effects can result in heritable, novel phenotypes even without variation in DNA sequence and could therefore provide an unappreciated source of response. The implications of epigenetic effects for the evolution of traits are just beginning to be explored, but epigenetic variation may expand the ecological and evolutionary options species in the face of rapid climate change. My lab group is exploring the potential role of epigenetic processes in natural and controlled studies of native, invasive and model plant species. Combined these studies should enhance our understanding of how epigenetic variation may be shaped by environment and contribute to adaptation.