Dr Paula Kover

Dr Paula Kover

Senior Lecturer

Plant evolutionary and ecological genetics

3 South,  1.18
Tel.: 01225 38 5059

Fax: 01225 38 6779



  • 2009-present  Senior Lecturer, University of Bath.
  • 2004-2009  Lecturer, University of Manchester.
  • 2002-2003  Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • 1999-2001  NSF Minority Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington University.
  • 1998-  PhD in Ecology and Evolution, Inidiana University.
  • 1992-  MS in Genetics, UFRJ (Brazil).
  • 1990-  BS (honours) in Ecology from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) (Brazil).

Research Interests

The genetic basis of adaptation and its application to conservation

A major goal of evolutionary genetics is to understand how genetic changes contribute to adaptive evolution.  To achieve such an understanding it is necessary to combine knowledge of the genetic basis of traits under selection with knowledge of how natural selection acts on the genetic variation available.  The fact that most traits of ecological, evolutionary and economical importance are complex (i.e. determined by multiple loci and affected by the environment), has made it difficult to study the evolutionary process at the genetic level empirically.  Clearly, the evolutionary response of a trait to selection (i.e., changes in the trait mean across generations) is expected to cause changes in allele frequencies. However, empirical data on genome wide response to selection on a complex trait are still very limited.

To better understand the evolutionary process at the molecular level and its implication we have a three-pronged approach:

  1. We developed fine-mapping resources and genomic data to identify causal genes underlying complex traits in Arabidopsis thaliana such as disease resistance, flowering time, seed size, germination time, etc.
  2. We perform experimental evolution experiments to determine genome-wide changes in allele frequency and correlated responses to selection
  3. We used experimental population with different levels of genetic diversity and different evolutionary histories to determine the effect of genetic diversity, bottlenecks, and hybridization on evolutionary potential.

The genetic basis of seed size

Relationship between number of viable seeds produced in a given fruit and the average seed size in the same fruit.

Due to the combined demands of population growth, climate change and biofuel production, there is a very urgent need to increase agricultural output.  In order to conserve natural ecosystems, any increase must be achieved by boosting yields from existing farmland.  Since most crops are harvested for seed, this means increasing the total yield obtained per unit area.  Seed yield has two major components:  seed size and seed number.

It is thought that there is a trade-off between these two variables suggesting that an increase in seed size will lead to a reduction in seed number and vice versa.  This project aims to use a new powerful set of recombined lines (MAGIC lines) to fine map genes that affect size and number of seeds and determine whether there is a true pleiotropy between the two traits or whether seed size can be increased without detriment to seed number.  More specifically we are pursuing the following topics:

  1. What are the causal genes underlying the natural variation observed in seed size and seed number?
  2. What is the contribution of maternal, paternal and environmental effects to the natural variation in seed size in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana?
  3. What is the relationship between seed trait and maternal vegetative traits?

Selected Publications

Gan, X. C., Stegle, O., Behr, J., Steffen, J. G., Drewe, P., Hildebrand, K. L., Lyngsoe, R., Schultheiss, S. J., Osborne, E. J., Sreedharan, V. T., Kahles, A., Bohnert, R., Jean, G., Derwent, P., Kersey, P., Belfield, E. J., Harberd, N. P., Kemen, E., Toomajian, C., Kover, P. X., Clark, R. M., Ratsch, G. and Mott, R., 2011. Multiple reference genomes and transcriptomes for Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature, 477 (7365), pp. 419-423.

Wolf, J. B., Mutic, J. J. and Kover, P. X., 2011. Functional genetics of intraspecific ecological interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences, 366 (1569), pp. 1358-1367.

House, C., Roth, C., Hunt, J. and Kover, P. X., 2010. Paternal effects in Arabidopsis indicate that offspring can influence their own size. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1695), pp. 2885-2893.

Kover, P. X., Valdar, W., Trakalo, J., Scarcelli, N., Ehrenreich, I. M., Purugganan, M. D., Durrant, C. and Mott, R., 2009. A multiparent advanced generation inter-cross to fine-map quantitative traits in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS Genetics, 5 (7), e1000551.

Ehrenreich, I. M., Hanzawa, Y., Chou, L., Roe, J. L., Kover, P. X. and Purugganan, M. D., 2009. Candidate gene association mapping of Arabidopsis flowering time. Genetics, 183 (1), pp. 325-335.

Kover, P. X., Rowntree, J. K., Scarcelli, N., Savriama, Y., Eldridge, T. and Schaal, B. A., 2009. Pleiotropic effects of environment-specific adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist, 183 (3), pp. 816-825.

Scarcelli, N. and Kover, P. X., 2009. Standing genetic variation in FRIGIDA mediates experimental evolution of flowering time in Arabidopsis. Molecular Ecology, 18 (9), pp. 2039-2049.