We study the population genetics process of adaptation in natural plant populations, using state of the art techniques in a handful of model organisms. We ask questions such as, how are populations shaped by their local environment? What traits are under selection? What are the genetic loci underlying these traits? Are alleles at these loci filtered by environmental gradients on the landscape over and above background genomic differentiation? Ultimately alleles at adaptive loci in foundation species may have an extended phenotype and determine ecosystem properties and services?
High throughput genome sequencing allows us to use Genome Wide Association Studies to determine the causative alleles and fine patterns population structure associated with adaptive trait variation. It also allows Landscape Genomic studies to determine the spatial and temporal variation of alleles at adaptive and neutral loci across environmental gradients.
Another critical tool is high resolution phenotyping by insitu imaging. These Phenomic studies are being performed on mapping populations in climate chambers to quantify growth (photosynthesis), development (photomorphogenesis), and reproduction (fitness) in real time throughout the growing season.
The Borevitz lab studies the genetic basis of adaptation in natural plant populations, spanning model organisms, foundation species and emerging crops. We develop and use Genomic and Phenomic tools for association studies in controlled climate chambers and on the landscape. Population genomics is used to map adaptive alleles and genetic structure. Phenomics is used to capture growth, development, and yield traits throughout the growing season. These studies connect genotype to phenotype and environment with the aim to better manage lands and regenerate life supporting services. Live and work in Canberra!
The Borevitz lab plays a key role in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (PEB), a cutting edge research centre focused on better understanding the way in which plants interconvert forms of chemical energy in response to environmental change. PEB’s vision is to enhance plant energy efficiency by simultaneously optimising energy capture, conversion and use in changing environments to improve the sustainable productivity of plants. The Atkin, Borevitz and Pogson labs also collaborate in an International Wheat Yield Partnership Grant to improving yield in wheat by optimising energy use efficiency.
Visit PEB website here: http://www.plantenergy.edu.au/
PEB has over 110 internationally competitive staff and students across four Australian Universities (ANU, UWA, UoA & LaTrobe) work together to define the complex system that determines overall energy efficiency in plants by discovering the key signals, 'gatekeeper' cells, and (epi)genetic controls that regulate this energy system and to manipulate these in combination in order to tune energy efficiency across the whole plant to enhance yields.
Accomplishments thus far include: in the last 5 years PEB has secured over $40 million in research funding (2014-2015) and published over 250 articles including key breakthroughs published in Nature, Cell, Science, PNAS & Plant Cell = more than 20% of all Australian publications in top-ranked plant science journals were authored or co-authored by PEB staff.
PEB is proud to sponsor ANU Jan Anderson HDR Supplementary Scholarships and also the Warwick Hillier Honours Scholarships. Further to these prestigious scholarships, PEB also offers Honours scholarships ($7K) and top-up scholarships for PhD students ($7K), in addition to well funded research, conference travel and graduate training programs.
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Can seedling screens of energy use efficiency in wheat transfer to yield in the field? (Summer scholar course)
Energy use and the plant canopy - measuring local respiration trends. (Summer scholar course)
Genome wide association mapping (Undergraduate, Summer scholar course, Honours, Graduate, Higher degree by research)
Investigating the genetic architecture of thermal acclimation of leaf energy metabolism using GWAS (Honours, Masters coursework, Higher degree by research)
Landscape genomics (Undergraduate, Summer scholar course, Honours, Graduate, Higher degree by research)
The impact of transposon variation on the evolvability of grasses (Summer scholar course, Honours, Graduate, Higher degree by research)
Grabowski PP, Morris GP, Casler MD, Borevitz JO. Population genomic variation reveals roles of history, adaptation and ploidy in switchgrass. Mol Ecol. 2014 Jun (online)
Brown TB, Cheng R, Sirault XR, Rungrat T, Murray KD, Trtilek M, Furbank RT, Badger M, Pogson BJ, Borevitz JO. TraitCapture: genomic and environment modelling of plant phenomic data. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2014 Apr (online)
Li Y, Cheng R, Spokas KA, Palmer AA, Borevitz JO. Genetic Variation for Life History Sensitivity to Seasonal Warming in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics. Feb 2014 (online)
Xu Zhang, Ron Hauss, Justin Borevitz. Natural Genetic Variation for Growth and Development Revealed by High-Throughput Phenotyping in Arabidopsis thaliana (G3 genetics Jan 2012) (Online)
Benjamin Brachi, Geoff Morris, Justin Borevitz. Genome Wide Association Studies in Plants: The missing heritability is in the field. Genome Biology, Oct 28, 2011. (online)
Li Y, Huang Y, Bergelson J, Nordborg M, Borevitz JO. Association Mapping of Local Climate Sensitive QTL in Arabidopsis thaliana. PNAS, Nov 15, 2010. (Online)