Faculty by Research Area

Molecular Evolution

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Ambrose Ambrose,  Stanley



Maybe Berenbaum,  May

216A Morrill Hall / 318B Morrill Hall
217-333-2910 / 217-333-7784

Professor & Head, Swanlund Chair
Entomology, PEEC

Photo Berlocher,  Stewart

304A Morrill Hall

Entomology, PEEC

C cheng Cheng,  C.-H. Christina

17E Burrill Hall

Animal Biology, PEEC

Downie Downie,  Stephen

239 Morrill Hall
(217) 333-1275

Professor, SIB Associate Director of Academic Affairs
Plant Biology, PEEC

Despite multidisciplinary studies using non-molecular characters, historical relationships among and within many families of flowering plants remain unclear. Reconstruction of phylogenies from molecular data is now routine in systematics and continues to provide valuable insight into evolutionary processes and relationships. We are using the record of molecular change contained within the chloroplast and nuclear genomes to trace evolutionary histories and elucidate patterns of phenotypic character evolution in the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), a plant family of much ecological, economical, and pharmaceutical interest. Current research is focused on the perennial, endemic umbellifers of western North America, such as <i>Cymopterus</i> and its allies, with the goals of clarifying generic- and species-level boundaries and revising the classification of the group. Unique structural rearrangements of the chloroplast genome are useful as systematic characters, in part because their rarity suggests phylogenetic stability. Of additional research interest is the detection, characterization, and phylogenetic circumscription of these structural mutations.
Kheath Heath,  Katy

249 Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
School of Integrative Biology, Plant Biology, PEEC

My research focuses on the evolution of mutualisms, which are most generally defined as species interactions that increase the fitness of both (or all) partners. Mutualisms are ubiquitous! And they include some of the most important species interactions in nature (for example: mitochondria, mycorrhizae, gut endosymbionts). Though, at first impression, these friendly interactions might appear tightly coevolved, instead they may be characterized by temporal and spatial heterogeneity, cheating, even evolutionary instability. I try to take a multidisciplinary approach and use diverse methods that traditionally are associated with the fields of quantitative genetics (multivariate statistics, greenhouse experiments), population and molecular genetics (genotyping, sequence analysis, expression assays), and ecology (field manipulations, collections) to understand multiple aspects of the evolution of mutualisms. Some questions currently motivating my work include: 1. Under what conditions (including the abiotic and biotic environment) do mutualisms evolve, remain stable, or break down?&nbsp; 2. How phenotypically and genetically variable are mutualistic interactions, and why is such variation maintained, despite selective pressure to cheat or, alternatively, to remain honest? 3. Which genes are variable in nature, and which are, or have been, important players in coevolution? Most generally, I am interested in plants, microbes, and their sundry interactions. Most of my research focuses on the interactions between legumes and their symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, called rhizobia. This includes the <em>Medicago-Sinorhizobium</em> mutualism because it is a great genetic model with an interesting ecology. I also have interests/projects in: the agronomically-important soybean-<em>Bradyrhizobium</em> interaction, invasive/naturalized clover-rhizobium interactions, invasive/naturalized <em>Medicago lupulina</em>-<em>Sinorhizobium </em>interactions, and the native prairie legume <em>Chamaecrista fasciculata</em> and associated rhizobia.
Kpjohnso Johnson,  Kevin

284 Natural Resources Building, 607 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign, IL 61820

Affiliate, Principal Ornithologist
Animal Biology, Entomology, INHS, PEEC

Malhi Malhi,  Ripan

209F Davenport Hall

Animal Biology, PEEC

Amiller7 Miller,  Andrew

2003 Robert Evers Lab

Plant Biology, PEEC

With an estimated 1.5 million species, fungi constitute the most diverse group of eukaryotic organisms on earth, second only to insects in the number of species thought to exist. However, only 80,000 species or 5% of fungi have been described so far indicating a great deal of fungal biodiversity remains to be discovered. Ascomycetes constitute the largest known group of fungi with over 32,000 species, of which pyrenomycetes account for almost 25%. Pyrenomycetes are an economically and ecologically important group of fungi in that they contain the “fruit flies” of the fungal world (i.e. Neurospora crassa, Podospora anserina, Sordaria fimicola) as well as significant destructive pathogens including the causative agents of chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma ulmi), and the recently discovered beech bark disease (Nectria coccinea). Phylogenetic relationships of ascomycetes, especially those in the Class Sordariomycetes, are poorly known. My research incorporates modern molecular techniques with traditional taxonomic methods to test morphological-based classifications from the ordinal level to the species level. Well-supported phylogenies provide clues as to which morphological characters may be informative for predicting evolutionary relationships and which are misleading. In most cases, molecular phylogenies do not reflect current classifications leading to new insights regarding character evolution in pyrenomycetes. We are currently conducting an inventory of the pyrenomycetes of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to determine their diversity, abundance, distribution, seasonality, and host specificity throughout the Park. This data will greatly add to our understanding of the biology and natural history of these organisms. Surveys currently being conducted in tropical regions will allow us to better understand biogeographical patterns of pyrenomycetes throughout the New World.
Philipp Philipp,  David

237 NRSA

Research Affiliate
Animal Biology, PEEC

Jrhodes Rhodes,  Justin

3315 Beckman Institute

Associate Professor

Hughrobe Robertson,  Hugh

417 Morrill Hall

Entomology, PEEC

Generobi Robinson,  Gene

1608 IGB / 449 Morrill Hall

Swanlund Chair and Director, Institute for Genomic Biology;
Entomology, PEEC

Roca Roca,  Alfred

441 Animal Sciences Laboratory

Associate Professor

Warnow Warnow,  Tandy

3235 Seibel Center for Computer Sciences

Affiliate, Professor
Entomology, Animal Biology, PEEC

Rwhitakr Whitaker,  Rachel

C222 Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory

Associate Professor
Molecular and Cellular Biology, PEEC

Cww Whitfield,  Charles

422 Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
Entomology, PEEC

Jwhitfie Whitfield,  James

215 Morrill Hall

Entomology, PEEC