Evolutionary Biology

The Blackman Lab extensively researches sunflowersEvolutionary Biology is the field of biology that studies the processes that produced the diversity of life on earth.  These processes include the origin of new species, the origin of novelty in form or function, and the types of selection that act at both the genotypic and phenotypic level to generate diversity.

At PMB we have two researchers doing fascinating work particularly in the area of plant evolution and diversity.

Ben BlackmanThe Blackman Lab focuses on the diversification in the phenotypic plasticity of developmental timing. Because environments fluctuate daily and seasonally, the onsets of major life history events--e.g. germination and flowering—or the daily peaks in activities affecting plant growth and reproduction are responses partly or wholly cued by environmental signals.

These responses are often the products of adaptive evolution because as species expand their ranges, colonize new environments, or adjust to historical and recent anthropogenic changes, the combination of environmental cues predictive for the optimal timing of developmental transitions may change dramatically.  The Blackman Lab applies tools from molecular, quantitative and population genomics in the lab and field to understand how and why diversity in these responses evolves across space and time.

Chelsea Specht

flowerThe Specht Lab uses traditional morphological and developmental techniques combined with molecular genetics, comparative genomics and evolutionary biology to study the natural diversity of plants and to help better understand the forces creating and sustaining this diversity.

The Lab's research incorporates elements of systematics, developmental genetics and molecular evolution to study the patterns and processes associated with plant speciation and diversification.