Flowering plants exhibit remarkable diversity in genome structure—perhaps more than any other major organismal group—with extensive variation in chromosome number, ploidy, and genome size. High throughput genomic sequencing and new bioinformatic tools make it increasingly possible to explore this variation across the diversity of plants, and relate this diversity to underpinning biological processes.
This project aims to investigate the diversity of plant genomes in the British flora. Britain has the best-studied flora on earth, with centuries of botanical recording effort and extensive databases of trait data. Recently, the Darwin Tree of Life Project has sequenced high quality reference genomes for a range of British native plant species. This research will draw on these resources and generate additional genomic resequencing data, first exploring genomic variation in terms of population genetic diversity and chromosomal structural variation, then associating variation to ecological factors (including habitat and elevation) and species attributes (including mating system and life history strategy).
Overall, this research will provide important new insights into the patterns and processes underlying genomic variation at the scale of a flora. It will also provide an opportunity to train in botanical research, genome science and bioinformatics, both at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh.
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