CUGI Projects

Aquilegia Project

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The evolution of life on earth has been punctuated by numerous examples of adaptive radiation. These dramatic events quickly create a large amount of biodiversity and are evidenced by rapid speciation along with morphological and physiological adaptations to numerous ecological niches. Species in the flowering plant genus Aquilegia have undergone a very recent adaptive radiation and present a unique opportunity to investigate the molecular genetic changes underlying adaptations.

Cacao Genome Sequence Released

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CUGI partnered with Mars Incorporated and the United States Department of Agriculture to produce the whole genome sequence of Theobroma cacao. This plant produces cocoa beans, the key ingredient in chocolate. The ultimate goal is to improve current chocolate varieties to include a higher resistance to disease, more robust growth, and even better taste.

Chloroplasts

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Chloroplasts

Genomic Tool Development for the Fagaceae

Beech Forest

The family of forest trees (the Fagaceae) that includes the chestnuts, oaks and beeches, dominates the hardwood forests of the northern hemisphere. These tree species have significant economic and ecological value. The chestnut genome is used as a model for the Fagaceae, but comparisons between the species will be performed. A major goal is to advance the breeding of an American chestnut resistant to Chestnut Blight Disease. Chestnut Blight Disease, caused by Cryphonectria parasitica, created the greatest ecological disaster in the history of the United States.

Metasequoia RNA-Seq

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Dr. Haiying Liang at Clemson University produced the first transcriptome data for Metasequoia glyptostroboides, also known as dawn redwood or Chinese redwood.

Mimulus Project

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Due to tremendous ecological and phenotypic diversity, the genus Mimulus (Scrophulariaceae, order Lamiales) has been widely used as a superb model flowering plant system for ecological and evolutionary genetics. All species are hermaphroditic and self-fertile, facilitating the construction of permanent populations such as inbred lines and recombinant inbred lines (RIL). M. guttatus species complex (2n = 28) and M. lewisii (2n = 16) are two established study systems. Both display tremendous variation in traits directly related to reproductive isolation in the wild, including habitat speciation, floral divergence, and the fertility of hybrids.