Characterizing the relationship between adaptation and genomic variation across the natural ranges of interior spruce and lodgepole pine.
Jason is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech University. His research is aimed at elucidating the genetic determinants of complex adaptive traits using genotype-phenotype association studies and landscape genomics. To do this he employs ‘next gen’ sequencing of large, diverse tree populations, which are grown in common environments and measured for a variety of adaptive traits, including timing of growth and dormancy transitions, tolerance to temperature extremes and drought hardiness. Forest tree populations are well adapted to their local environments at present, but anthropogenic climate change is substantially altering adaptive landscapes, particularly in temperate and boreal regions. In the absence of adaptation to rapid changes in climatic, tree populations will be forced to either migrate or be extirpated. A better understanding of the genomic underpinnings of complex adaptive traits facilitates predictions of carbon sequestration in future forests, enhances the adaptive potential of local populations through conservation of ecologically-relevant genetic variation, and facilitates sustainable production of wood biomass through genome-enabled breeding. More generally, these studies begin to provide answers to long-standing questions in evolutionary ecology about the genetic architecture of adaptation.