Explore nature!
 o Plants
 o Underwater
 o Bugs
 o Mammals
 o Pacific
 o Theory
 o What is a species?

 Interesting Stuff
 o Workshops
 o Conferences
 o Links of interest
 o Discussion Forum

 o Home
 o What is SYSTANZ?
 o What is Systematics?
 o People
 o Contacts

Plant species radiation, genome and sequence evolution

Peter Lockhart

Peter Lockhart

Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution,
Massey University
Palmerston North
New Zealand

My research interests are focused upon plant species radiation and studies on sequence and genome evolution.

Plant species radiation:
I am interested in questions such as: When and why does species radiation occur? Why have some plant groups radiated and diversified more than others? What is its relationship to geological and climatic change? What genetic processes lead to morphological, physiological and ecological diversification? What are the ecological drivers for diversification? What roles do glacial refugia play? What role do different plant breeding systems have on evolutionary dynamics? How does the relative coding capacity of genomes affect the potential of lineages to evolve? How can genetic and genome information be integrated into biodiversity conservation strategies?

Click to view fullsize picture

New Zealand is wonderful place to try and find answers to these questions. It is one of those places where species radiation is happening now, and where there is a great potential to study it. Interdisciplinary studies are need to do this, and they range from those concerning the mathematical description of radiations, studies on the evolutionary dynamics of genome architecture and sequence evolution, population genetics of morphologically and ecologically distinct species, to candidate gene approaches for investigating the genetics ] of morphological evolution. Currently, I am acting as a co-ordinator for a range of projects on the New Zealand flora being undertaken by collaborating groups in New Zealand and overseas.

The New Zealand Plant Species Radiation Group:
In our lab there are studies underway on Myrsine, Agathis, Nothofagus, Ranunculus, Leptinella, Pachycladon and Epilobium.

Sequence and genome evolution:
I am also interested in sequence evolution - which seems predominantly to be an asymmetrical process. My interest arises because sequence evolution is typically modelled as a symmetric reversible process. An important question is whether or not this is a sufficient description or model of sequence evolution. I hope to learn more about the biology underlying asymmetrical processes and what their effect is on phylogeny reconstruction. Most recently, my work has concentrated on investigating non-stationary covarion-like processes of change and its relationship to compositional heterogeneity.