Future Challenges and Unprecedented Opportunities in the Emerging Field of Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics
Ecological and evolutionary genomics (EEG) seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying responses of organisms to their natural environments by using genomic approaches to identify and characterize genes with ecological and evolutionary relevance. EEG combines field studies with laboratory experiments within an ecologically relevant framework, and integrates tools from ecology and evolution, next generation sequencing, statistics, and bioinformatics. The post-genomic era, especially NGS, offers unprecedented research opportunities to probe fundamental biological questions that were not previously tractable in non-model organisms, such as the genomic basis for ecological adaptation to current and changing environments.
This new era in EEG is no longer limited by sequencing technology and data acquisition, but rather by the ability to process, analyze, and integrate information within an interdisciplinary ecological framework. In this talk, I will introduce EEG within (A) the context of our Ecological Genomics Institute and (B) through my own research on phenotypic differentiation, genetic diversity, and transcriptome variation of a dominant grass to diverse and changing climates of the Great Plains. In particular, I will discuss how this dominant grass may respond to current and future climates, via plasticity or genetic adaptive variation.