Current major projects

Adaptation to changing environments in space and time

Arabidopsis thaliana

Arabidopsis is a model system for evolutionary genetics and ecology. We are studying local adaptation in Afroalpine populations of this species. We are also studying phenotypic and genetic change through time (over the last 200 years) using museum specimens.

Key papers
DeLeo et al. 2020. Effects of two centuries of global environmental variation on phenology and physiology of Arabidopsis thaliana. Global Change Biology. pdf
Lasky et al. 2018. Coherent synthesis of genomic associations with phenotypes and home environments. Molecular Ecology Resources. pdf

Host-parasite coevolution

Cereal crop hosts and Striga parasitic plants

Striga hermonthica is a root parasitic plant and is a major constraint to cereal crop yields in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We are studying how hosts (especially sorghum landraces) have adapted in response to local parasite prevalence. At the same time, we are studying the evolution of host generalization vs. specialization by the parasitic Striga.

Key papers
Bellis et al. 2021. The geography of parasite local adaptation to host communities. Ecography. pdf
Bellis et al. 2020. Genomics of sorghum local adaptation to a parasitic plant. PNAS. pdf
Lopez et al. 2019. Transcriptomics of host-specific interactions in natural populations of the parasitic plant purple witchweed (Striga hermonthica). Weed Science. pdf

Domestication, geographic spread, and local adaptation

Teak, sorghum, rice

We are studying the evolution of several domesticated or semi-domesticated species. We are especially interested in how gene flow, environment, and human preferences have shaped these species.

Key papers
Gutaker et al. 2020. Genomic history and ecology of the geographic spread of rice. Nature Plants. pdf
Lasky et al. 2015. Genome-environment associations in sorghum landraces predict adaptive traits. Science Advances. pdf

Local adaptation & regional population forecasting in invasive species


Cheatgrass (Bromus tecotorum) has invaded much of North America and adapted to local conditions. We are pursuing an NSF Rules of Life-funded project with Peter Adler (Utah State), Mevin Hooten (UT-Austin), and a large network of collaborators (called "BromeCast")

BromeCast website

Key papers
Lasky JR, Hooten MB, Adler PB. 2020.
What processes must we understand to forecast regional scale population dynamics? Proceedings of the Royal Society B. pdf