Seeds & Reproduction

Harnessing genetic variation for seed trait

Seeds are the most important agricultural product, accounting for at least 70% of the world’s food supply (either directly or as animal feed).  With rising population and diminishing availability of agricultural land, it is increasingly urgent to improve crop yields and seed quality.

We have projects in the group investigating many aspects of natural variation and genetic basis of seed traits, including:

  1.  The identifications of mechanism affecting seed growth regulation (Scott and Doughty).
  2.  Fine-mapping of the genetic basis of seed traits (including seed size and number, and germination rates) using QTL and association mapping (Kover).
  3.  Plasticity in seed traits in response to environmental effects (Kover and Scott).


Understanding the genetic basis of hybridization barriers.

Many plants, including agronomically important species, exhibit post-zygotic barriers to hybridization, in both interploidy crosses within species and interspecific crosses between related species.  These barriers prevent production of potentially valuable new hybrids for agricultural use, but also provide information about the genetic mechanism involved in speciation.  In particular, we are interested in investigating the genetic basis of the observed natural variation in this hybridization barrier observed in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.