WVUDepartment of Biology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Keith Garbutt

Ecological and Quantitative
Genetics of Plants

Underlying all the research in my laboratory is an interest in understanding the impact on Darwinian fitness of differential physiology in plants and in trying to understand this variation in physiology in terms of its genetic and environmental control. Several approaches have been used. It is possible to take a known physiological mutant and look at the relationship between that known mutation and fitness. Studies on the growth and the competitive ability of both atrazine resistant and susceptible genotypes have led to insights into the cost, or lack thereof, of physiological mutations.

Another approach is to use growth as an integrated measure of physiology and relate growth to Darwinian fitness. Using this philosophy has allowed the lab to use quantitative genetic methodology to understand the relationships between growth, carbon gain, and architecture and how they lead to differences in fitness. It has been hypothesized that when plants are grown in extremely stressful environments that a slight difference in physiology may become more important.

Interest in this hypothesis has led to a very applied area of research which has been concentrating on the use of constructed wetlands to treat acid mine drainage or domestic waste water. These studies have led to a better understanding of the types of plants which may be useful in constructed wetlands.

Recently we have returned to some basic questions concerning the maintenance of genetic variation in natural populations and investigating the highly polymorphic species Capsella bursa-pastoris and the maintainance of a high degree of within population genetically based polymorphism in leaf shape.

 

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