The Evolution of Environmentally-Responsive Gene Regulatory Networks

Response to environmental cues is a genome-wide phenomenon; much of this response is coordinated at the level of gene transcription. We are interested in characterizing both the trans-acting (Des Marais et al. 2015 MBE) and cis-acting (Lasky et al. 2014 MBE) variants which drive natural variation in transcriptional responses. With collaborators, the Des Maras Lab is using tools from network theory to understand how topological features of gene regulatory networks shape the evolution of environmental response (Des Marais et al. 2017. Proc Roy Sci B). Current areas of inquiry include using patterns of network GxE to improve conventional and transgenic strategies for plant improvement.