Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
May 2014 - April 2017
In a nutshell
Epigenetic diversity within species could be an important, but so far overlooked, aspect of biodiversity that affects the ecology and evolution of species. In this project, we comprehensively assess – for the first time – natural epigenetic diversity across a broad geographic range of several common grassland species, and test for its environmental, ecological and genetic correlates.
The biological diversity within species is important not only for evolution and adaptation, but also for population and ecosystem processes. In the past, such within-species diversity was assumed to arise only from genetic (= DNA sequence) diversity. However, recent evidence suggests that epigenetic diversity alone can also create variation in ecologically important traits and may thus be of ecological and evolutionary significance. Still, most of our current knowledge comes from studies with model organisms, whereas we know next to nothing about the true extent of epigenetic diversity in natural populations, let alone its ecological and evolutionary significance.
In this project, we take advantage of the research platform of the Biodiversity Exploratories to assess natural epigenetic diversity in common grassland plants and test for its environmental, ecological and genetic correlates. Specifically, our goals are to:
- quantify epigenetic diversity (variation in DNA methylation) within and among populations of common grassland plants,
- test the effects of human land use on epigenetic diversity,
- examine relationships between plant genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic diversity, and
- build expertise in established and next-generation molecular methods for ecological-epigenetic studies.
There are no publications from this project yet.