Dissertation Defense Seminar | Kimmy Stanton | Role of subfunctionalized MYB paralogs in the evolution of pigmentation patterning in Clarkia

Speaker(s): Kimmy Stanton

Recent advances in genomic and gene editing technologies are finally allowing for the in-depth study of the intricate spatial patterning of pigmentation, for example zebra stripes, butterfly wings, and flower spots. The study of plant pigmentation patterning is still in its infancy, but one surprising preliminary result is that patterning, specifically with anthocyanin pigments, always involves subfunctionalized MYB paralogs that each control the initiation of pigmentation in a specific pattern element. These early studies have mostly focused on the mechanism for patterning, though, and few have looked at the evolution and diversification of this complex trait. I use a combination of phylogenomics, transcriptomics, and classical genetics to answer three integral questions about the evolution of pigmentation patterning in Clarkia, a genus of flowering plants that display intricate and widely varied pigmentation patterns on their petals. My findings suggest that the modularity of the duplicated R2R3 MYB genes, with specific and less pleiotropically constrained function, may play a central role in pattern diversification in plants.





Amy Clayton