Newly Funded AdaptoSCOPE Project Will Examine the Molecular Basis of Darwinian Adaptation When the Polygenic Basis of Adaptation Is Considered; Completely Novel View of Adaptive Landscapes Will Be Provided

Professor Juliette de Meaux from the Botanical Institute of the University of Cologne has received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council for her project AdaptoSCOPE, which explores the molecular basis of Darwinian adaptation. The project will run for five years and will receive up to 1.6 million euros in funding. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that novel aspects of the molecular basis of Darwinian adaptation can be discovered if the polygenic basis of adaptation is taken into account. Specifically, it will study the adaptation of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana to different climatic surroundings. This species is found at diverse latitudes and shows signs of local adaptation to different climates. Its molecular structures are optimized in the course of this adaptation. The research project will identify the molecular pathways subjected collectively to natural selection. Moreover, it will clarify if Arabidopsis lyrata, a close relative of A. thaliana, is subject to similar modifications of its molecular systems in its adaptation to different climates. The project will provide a completely novel view on adaptive landscapes and examine whether local adaptation occurs by convergent evolution of the molecular systems in plants. This approach has the potential to find broad applications in ecology and agriculture. Dr. de Meaux received her training as a botanist at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon and the Université Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. She completed her Ph.D. at the Université d’Orsay in 2002. From 2010 to 2014, she was Professor of Plant Molecular Evolution at the University of Münster. Since 2015, she has held the Chair for Plant Molecular Ecology at the University of Cologne. [Press release 2015]
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