Date:June 15, 2012
Speaker: Michael L. Arnold
Michael L. Arnold is a distinguished research professor at the Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens. His research interests include natural hybridization, adaptation and speciation. Professor Arnold’s team has been working on evolutionary phenomena on taxonomically diverse organisms, including fungi, plants and animals.
In this talk, I will illustrate the development of one plant species complex, the Louisiana Irises, into a ‘model system’ for investigating hybrid fitness and the role of genetic exchange in adaptive evolution and diversification. In particular, I will argue that a multitude of approaches, involving both experimental and natural environments, and incorporating both manipulative analyses and surveys of natural populations, are necessary to adequately test for the evolutionary significance of introgressive hybridization. An appreciation of the variability of hybrid fitness leads to the conclusion that certain genetic signatures reflect adaptive evolution. Finally, I will discuss some of the newer experiments our group is establishing using a variety of genomic and transcriptomic approaches to decipher the basis of reproductive isolation and adaptation.