Boechera is closely related to Arabidopsis, providing access to genomic information and techniques from this model plant species. We have used positional cloning in Boechera to identify the molecular basis of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) controlling insect resistance and plant fitness in natural populations, and have identified candidate genes influencing life history variation in the wild.
Our study populations are genetically and ecologically undisturbed, so evolutionary analyses can relate existing genetic variation to current and historical environmental contexts. Due to elevation gradients and geography, these populations have experienced heterogeneous environmental conditions, and they are locally adapted to some of these ecological differences.
Several experiments have examined genomics, transcription profiling, phylogeography, breeding systems, local adaptation, and speciation in Boechera. Building on a linkage map and several sets of Recombinant Inbred Lines, the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute is now sequencing three Boechera species.