Reconstructing population and adaptive history in Arabidopsis thaliana

Natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana has contributed to discoveries in diverse areas of plant biology. While A. thaliana has typically been considered a weed associated primarily with human-mediated environments, including agricultural and urban sites and railways, it has recently been shown that it is also native in remote natural areas, including high altitude sites in Eurasia and Africa, from the Atlas mountains in Morocco to the Afroalpine regions in Eastern and South Africa to Yunnan in China, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. This finding suggests that while A. thaliana has been extensively studied in Europe and Western Asia there are still many open questions about its population history, genotype–phenotype relationships and mechanisms of adaptation. In particular, A. thaliana populations from Africa harbor high diversity and persist in challenging environmental conditions. We have now collected sequence data for additional populations that connect Africa to Eurasia. For this project, the PhD student will conduct population genetic analyses to reconstruct demographic and adaptive histories in this exciting new data set.

The project will be supervised by Angela Hancock at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

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