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The McGlaughlin Lab

Plant Population Genetics

Research in the McGlaughlin Lab is focused on two main areas:

  • Conservation Genetics: A major focus is research aimed at using genetics to understand the conservation of rare and endangered plant taxa. Unlike many conservation genetic studies, we ask evolutionarily important questions that relate to conservation, rather than solely collecting information on levels of genetic diversity. I am particularly interested in the genetic circumscription of rare taxa, spatial genetic structure within populations, genetic divergence associated with ecological gradients, and levels of gene flow among isolated populations. 

 Channel Islands Plants

Above - San Miguel Island, Channel Islands National Park, California. Plants we work on: Coreopsis (Leptosyne) gigantea (large shrub), Eriogonum grande var. rubescens (low gorwing pink flowers), and Acmispon dendroideus var. veatchii (low growing yellow flowers).  

  • Plant Speciation: In particular, our goal is to dissect the mechanisms that lead to the formation of new species. To achieve this goal, we use a wide range of genetic data types, including nuclear microsatellites, low copy nuclear sequence data, chloroplast sequence data, and next generation sequence SNP data data such as RAD-Seq. Speciation research projects are generally focused at the interface between populations genetics and phylogenetics, with an emphasis on documenting the coalescence of alleles within lineages. This type of research serves to inform our understanding of the evolutionary units of biological diversity and the forces that shape divergence and diversification.

Additional topics of interest include, plant hybridization, isolation by distance, spatial genetic structure, and ecological speciation.