Project Goals

DarwinPlants: Probing the genomic basis of rapid evolutionary diversification in the Galápagos daisy trees (genus Scalesia)

Within the last 4 million years years, the endemic Galápagos daisy trees rapidly diversified from a weedy ancestor into the genus Scalesia, which contains at least 15 species with spectacularly divergent life history traits and variation in the size and shape of their leaves.

While Darwin’s finches of Galápagos have become a model of adaptive radiation, these plants have received remarkably little attention despite their even more dramatic radiation into diverse ecological niches.

This project is set to run between 2019-2023.


Obtain a chromosome-level reference genome

Using a combination of long-read (Pacbio) and contiguity ligation (Dovetail) sequencing, we have obtained a chromosome-level reference genome.

Our goal is now to publish the genome, by doing compative genomics with other plant genomes.

Population genomics of Scalesia

Benefiting from the chromosome-level genome we will be developing tools for the detection of variants in polyploid organisms.

We will also identify areas under selection on the genome by identifying genetic sweeps.

Gene expression networks of leaf morphology

Different Scalesia species have strikingly different leaf morphologies. We have generated RNA-level data for different tissues and species to explore gene expression networks and obtain differentially expressed genes.

Scalesia phylogenetics & biogeography

Using genome-level data we will obtain a highly resolved phylogeny of Scalesia and explore the biogeography of the diversification in the Galápagos.

Scalesia cordata – photo by Patricia Jaramillo
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