Though genome duplication, or polyploidy, is widespread in plants, its role as a cause of physiological diversification is underappreciated. Polyploidy should influence physiology in two ways. First, the doubling of genome size increases cell size, which has biophysical consequences for the transport of water and sugars and the metabolism of cells. Second, duplicate genes may gain new functions over evolutionary time. Our lab examines how polyploidy influences the trajectory of physiological evolution using both naturally occurring and experimentally synthesized polyploids to distinguish the direct effects of genome duplication from post-duplication evolutionary change. We also examine how physiological changes caused by polyploidy influence tolerance of abiotic resource stress, competitive interactions, and the distribution of species. This work is done in collaboration with Dr. Brian Husband.
Related publications (*Undergraduate, †Graduate or #Postdoctoral advisee) :
*Thompson K.A., Husband B.C., Maherali H. 2015. No influence of water limitation on the outcome of competition between diploid and tetraploid Chamerion angustifolium (Onagraceae). Journal of Ecology, 103:733-741.
*Thompson K.A., Husband B.C., Maherali H. 2014. Climatic niche differences between diploid and tetraploid cytotypes of Chamerion angustifolium (Onagraceae). American Journal of Botany, 101:1868-1875.
Maherali H., *Walden A.E., Husband B.C. 2009. Genome duplication and the evolution of physiological responses to water stress. New Phytologist, 184:721-731.