Laura Galloway


My research uses ecological and genetical approaches to explore mechanisms of adaptation and patterns of evolutionary change in natural plant populations.  Plants are sedentary and therefore cannot directly choose their growth environment or mates, they vary in their gender and potential for inbreeding, and many species are polyploid having more than two copies of each chromosome and gene.  I study the consequences of these plant attributes for evolution using a combination of field and greenhouse studies, quantitative genetics, and molecular techniques. Current projects in my lab focus on the evolution of inbreeding across a species’ range, maternal effects as a mechanism of adaptive evolution, and whether polyploidy really results in "instant speciation" as is typically thought.  With my students, I am investigating the earliest stages of speciation – the possibility that evolution of organelle genomes, such as the chloroplast, create reproductive isolation between populations that initiates the speciation process. My students and I incorporate studies of invasive species, altered habitats, and climate change into our research because these novel conditions permit insight into mechanisms of evolution.

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