Ecological genomics of neighbor

Project NeighborGen:

Kentaro Shimizu
Jordi Bascompte
Meredith Schuman
Bernhard Schmid
Michael O'Brien

Kevin Ng Kit Siong (Forest Research Institute Malaysia)

Aim: To quantify underexplored interactions within species via chemical biodiversity and link to genomic architecture effects in collaboration with BioFeedback and HumTrait.

Research: Genomics, chemical ecology and theoretical ecology will be combined to achieve a more integrative mechanistic description of biodiversity and links among levels of diversity. Many studies in temperate communities have demonstrated the importance of chemistry for mediating interactions of plants with other species. Shimizu, Schuman, and others have demonstrated that plant genetic diversity and associated chemical diversity can affect these community-level interactions and dynamic temporal changes from induced response, to phenology. Network theory offers tools to characterize these dynamic interactions at the level of communities. We propose that the study of the interaction within species would open the way to integrate genomics, chemical and theoretical ecology to understand the molecular basis of how plant diversity impacts community and species diversity and contribute to a predictive understanding of these diversity relationships. Biodiversity effects through the neighboring individuals of the same species are understudied but is thought to be as important as those between species for prediction.
We have conducted growth experiments of 200 genotypes of the model species Arabidopsis thaliana in the Irchel research garden. Preliminary analysis suggested a significant contribution of neighboring plant genotypes on the insect community associated with focal individuals. We will model the interaction between neighboring individuals using the expertise of the Bascompte group on network analysis together with the BioFeedback project. Furthermore, genome-wide association studies suggested the involvement of chemical defenses and signals in the neighbor effect. This will be a first genome-wide study of neighboring effect. Part of initial plan on tropical systems was integrated to the HumTrait project. We wish to apply the methods to biodiversity experiments established during previous URPP GCB work in Malaysia.