No, not Panic-oids. The Panicoids, or members of the grass subfamily Panicoideae, include important crops such as corn, sorghum, and sugarcane. We have published a phylogenomic estimate of Panicoid relationships in the journal BMC Plant Biology. This represents the completion of our first genomic-level phylogenies for each of the four giant subfamilies of grasses. The paper is a nice feather-in-the-cap for lead author Sean Burke, a student in Mel Duvall's lab. Well done, Sean!
What kind of grass thrives in hot arid regions? A Chloridoid! These tough little plants use a special kind of photosynthesis called C4, which allows them to better handle heat, drought, and low CO2 levels. Our new paper uses genomic data to propose a chloroplast phylogeny estimation of the subfamily Chloridoideae. Lead author Mel Duvall and specialists Travis Columbus and Amanda Fisher have combined their expertise to finish this nice collaborative project. More to come!
Poa (bluegrass, a common component of most American lawns) is a member of the largest grass subfamily, Pooideae. Our new paper explores the relationships among these grasses by using genomic data to propose a new phylogeny estimate for the Pooids. The lead author, Jeff Saarela, is an exceptional research scientist with the Canadian Museum of Nature. Check out his site!
A much needed framework for assessing molecular homology is now published. The paper, by David Morrison, Matt Morgan, and Scot Kelchner, synthesizes nearly three decades of ideas about the nature of homology at the nucleotide, gene, and protein levels. Our new definitions could help improve the automated alignment of DNA sequences and the evolutionary analysis of genomic data. Or it might not. We'll see!
A heart-felt "thank you" to my superb colleagues and students these past ten years –– you have allowed me the opportunity to show the world what I can do, and I am grateful. Good luck with all of your challenges, and call on us if you need us.
Dr. Kelchner gives an invited talk in the Netherlands, at the meeting "Genealogical Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Biology". It was pleasant to be back at Leiden University. Particular thanks go to David Morrison, Axel Janke, Céline Scornavacca, Jim Whitfield, and Mike Steel for their pleasant company and impressive tolerance of Kelchner's giardia and entamoeba infections. That's real friendship.
Together Dr. Ken Aho and Kelchner form the PEEPs undergraduate research group: “Pine Endophytes Education Project”. We will be sampling needles this coming winter and spring with the undergraduates, then develop an approach to study community-level interactions of organisms within those tiny cylindrical leaves.
Our multinational team on phylogenetic networks has secured the cover article in Trends in Genetics this month. This is the first group product to emerge from our meetings in Leiden, Netherlands last October. Mostly, it is just a fun read for an audience unused to thinking about evolution as network-like.
A pleasant visit to Iowa State University, where we held a summit meeting for our NSF Grass Genomics grant. Lynn Clark was kind enough to host us all as we spent our time digging through data, planning talks, coordinating projects, and sampling a fine single-malt. Kelchner was reminded of just how beautiful Iowa can be in the spring!
The peer-reviewed publication is now available for Kelchner and the Bamboo Phylogeny Group’s chloroplast DNA phylogeny estimate of world bamboo tribes. Boring methods abound, as do a couple of nice diagrams showing evolutionary relationships among these amazing grasses.