Acacia evolution: why do some species evolve faster than others?

Acacias are one of the most diverse groups of plants in the world, with almost 1000 species in Australia alone. Acacias display stunning morphological diversity, but somethign let's less obvious is that they also display huge variation in the rates at which they evolve. Our group works on understanding the causes and consequences of this variation, not just in Acacias but in many groups of plants and animals.

This project will use a comprehensive database of life history and genetic information to test hypotheses about rates of molecular and morphological evolution in Acacias. It will examine whehter certain life history traits like height and generation time are linked to rates of evolution, and it will also look at how rates of evolution vary across the continent in response to abiotic factors like water availability. This work will answer fundamental questions about the tempo and mode of molecular evolution.

Depending on the student, there is scope to focus on different aspects of the work, and to incorporate gathering various new types of data include new genomic information.