One goal of evolutionary biology is to connect adaptive traits to their underlying molecular mechanisms. In the Finseth lab, we aim to link genotypes (molecules) and phenotypes (traits) to their effects on fitness (adaptation) and population dynamics in the field (ecology).
We investigate the genetic underpinnings of phenotypic adaptations using a combination of field experiments, experimental manipulations, and functional and population genomics. We mainly focus on traits involved in reproduction (but have been known to stray...). Active projects include identifying the genetic basis of flowering time, trichomes, and petal cell shape (left).
Conical cells (above) on petal are hypothesized to provide footgrips for foraging bees. In Mimulus, cell shape varies across the genus (e.g., M. puniceus-left, M. guttatus-right). We investigate 1) the role of mating system in the evolution of cell shape and 2) if parallel divergence in cell shape is due to parallel genetic changes. SEM images by Tessa Finley (senior thesis students),