The floral polymorphism tristyly is characterised by the differential positioning of sex organs. There are three floral morphs (long-, mid- and short-styled; L, M, S; Fig 1). I am interested in investigating the genetic, genomic and phenotypic basis for tristyly in the annual aquatic plant Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae).
I. Molecular genetic basis of tristyly
The evolution of adaptive multi-locus polymorphisms has been a long-standing puzzle in molecular population genetics. A cluster of linked genes known as a supergene complex has been proposed to govern a number of traits such as colour and pattern polymorphism in insects and molluscs. Although tristyly is one of the oldest cases for which a supergene complex has been proposed, there has been little supporting molecular genetic evidence. I am interested in identifying the genomic regions governing tristyly and uncovering the mechanisms by which the proposed supergenes can be maintained.
II. Genetic and genomic consequences of the breakdown of tristyly
The breakdown of tristyly leads to male and female sex organs reaching the same height within a flower. This breakdown has contributed to the origin of selfing E. paniculata variants via two alternative pathways (below). I am interested in investigating the genetic architecture and the population genomic consequences of the breakdown of tristyly. Understanding the genetics and genomics of this transition to selfing will contribute towards our understanding of the genetics of reproductive adaptation.