and of Plant and Microbial Biology
The Blackman Lab studies how plants adapt to local environments and how crops were domesticated, with a major emphasis on studying how and why plant development and its ability to respond to changing environmental conditions evolve as a consequence of these processes. Using diverse approaches to connect genes to traits and ecology, our group aims to answer fundamental questions about the genetics of adaptation, the evolution of development, and mechanisms of gene-environment interaction in two plant groups, sunflower and monkeyflower. In particular, our projects ask 1) how do organisms integrate environmental cues to trigger developmental transitions, 2) through what mechanisms does this plasticity evolve and 3) what natural or anthropogenic factors have driven or maintain this variation?
By connecting genetic variation to phenotypes to survival and reproduction, the lab's work aims to understand all levels of the evolutionary process, and consequently our studies range from molecular genetics to population and quantitative genomics to field studies in ecologically relevant habitats. We are currently investigating the environmental and circadian regulation of solar tracking movements by sunflower stems and of floret maturation in sunflower disks, the process of sunflower domestication through transcriptomic and ancient DNA studies, and the ecological genetics of adaptation to local climates along environmental gradients.