The Plant Genetic Variation and Adaptation group is interested in understanding the physiological, genetic and molecular basis of complex plant traits. Traits we are interested in are related to plant performance and adaptation to their (natural) environment.
In our research we make extensive use of natural genetic variation in Arabidopsis thaliana, which is a general model for plant (crop) species. Over the past years we have collected and developed diverse Arabidopsis germplasm, including many mutants and several genetically segregating populations. These populations, and populations obtained from collaborators, are used for Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) or Genome-wide Association (GWA) analysis of plant performance and adaptation to abiotic stresses.
Next to visible traits, we study genetical genomics traits assessed by high-throughput “omics” techniques such as transcript, protein and metabolite profiling and mineral concentrations. Apart from cloning the genes underlying specific QTLs and studying their function, we are interested in constructing genetic regulatory networks controlling physiological processes related to plant growth and adaptation traits.
Next to Arabidopsis we study other Brassicaceae, such as the crop species Brassica rapa (e.g. Chinese Cabbage) and B. oleracea (e.g. White Cabbage) and the heavy metal hyperaccumulator model Noccaea (Thlaspi) caerulescens (Alpine Penny Cress) for molecular genetic analysis of specific traits and for comparative purposes.