Analyzing the Genetic Basis of Dwarfism in an Alpine Plant
Plants have been evolving for millions of years to best fit a range of environments. One such extraordinary case is alpine plants, which grow in extremely harsh conditions. To adapt in these conditions alpine plants have adopted several unique traits, oneof which isdwarfism. Dwarfism is a highly sought-after trait in agriculturedue to its ability to forego common problems such as lodging, and research has been done inseveralmodel agricultural species such as rice and corn, revealing candidate genes for its mechanism. However, very little work has been done in alpine adapted ecological systems. The genus Aquilegiahas a well-researched and annotated genome, making it an important ecological and evolutionary model.Our focal species for this project is Aquilegia jonesii,the most alpine adapted columbine,holdingmany of the classic traits seen in alpine plants, including extreme dwarfism. Thissummerwe analyzedsecond generation (F2) hybrid crosses between A. jonesiiand another columbine variety, A. origami, which exhibit a gradient of intermediate phenotypes and genotypes between the two parents.We have measured leaf area (a proxy for dwarfism) on 97 of the F2 plants, giving us an estimate of the distributionof phenotypes for the F2 population, which is representative of the distribution of genotypes.We have prepared genomic DNA librariesforeach of these 338individuals toanalyze areas of the genome associated with the dwarf phenotype using a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysisin the near future.