The study of genetic variation in ecologically relevant plant traits can lead to an understanding of evolutionary processes and result in increased agricultural output. Recent technological advances in molecular biology and genetics, together with the adoption of model organisms for basic research, have opened new possibilities to dissect genetic networks. However, to understand the evolutionary forces that shape these networks, an ecological context is necessary.
We combine methods from various biological disciplines, such as developmental genetics, quantitative genetics, genomics and molecular biology, as well as experimental ecology.
We are interested in interactions that occur at different levels of biological organisation – interactions between organs of an individual, interactions between conspecific individuals, and interactions between species within a community. We are adressing the following questions: what are the genetic bases of mother-child, plant-plant, and plant-soil interactions? And what are the consequences of variation in such interactions, at the level of indivual fitness or at the level of the plant community?