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Anna Runemark lab

Evolutionary Ecology of Plant–Insect Interactions

C. heterophyllum (left) and C. oleraceum (right)

How does adaptation to a novel niche mould genomes and phenotypes?

Using host plant specific subspecies of the fly T. conura we investigate the adaptations following host plant shifts and identify the areas in the genome associated with theseenotypic characters. Broadly, this research strives to increase the understanding of how ecological selection can lead to divergent adaptation and creation of novel diversity. A new niche implies altered selection pressures on several aspects of the phenotype, and this will generate correlational selection for certain combinations of traits/loci. Ultimately we aim to address how non-physical linkage disequilibrium arises when several genomically unlinked loci are selected to be coinherited, and how this process affects both genetic variation and evolvability.

Adaptation to new environments and selection pressures can be either plastic or genetic. We investigate whether the relative contribution of these different mechanisms differs between populations that are facultatively using two different host plants and would be predicted to benefit from plastic responses, and these that are host plant specialists. We also use this system to address the fitness consequences of generalist behavior and specialization within the same species. The genetic basis of adaptation is highly relevant for the ability to adapt, and speed at which species and populations may adapt, to a changing climate. This is a component of my research that I am currently developing. This research is supported by a Swedish Research Council Establishment Grant.


Landscape genetics and its applications

I am a co-PI on Mikkel Brydegaards FORMAS grant. In this grant we combine Laser Radar with landscape genetics to investigate the population structure and potential dispersal routes for a forest pest species, the bark beetle Ips typographus. The resistance matrix and gene flow analysis methods are highly transferable, and my intention is to take advantage of this and apply these methods to understand how pollinator genetic diversity, evolvability and connectivity are affected by fragmentation. I am a BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate) PI, and I am currently applying for additional funding to apply these methods to other systems, with the long-term goal to apply these tools in pollinators directly relevant to the ecosystem service of pollination. This would be achieved e.g. by developing genetic protocols for assessment of pollinator population connectivity and LIDAR methods for quantifying pollinator movement across landscapes. 


Plant genome duplications and the evolution of plant-insect interactions

Ecology may interact with genomic architecture and shape outcomes. PLANT-link has funded a collaborative project where Magne Friberg, Kristina Karlsson-Green (SLU) and I are investigating this. Specifically, we address if pre-existing selection for asexuality facilitates establishment of polyploid lineages; e.g., in conditions where pollination is unreliable, selection should favour asexual reproduction also in diploid populations. Thus, the success of novel polyploids may depend on plant-insect interactions. We study this using different ploidy-types of the plant Lithophragma bolanderi as model. We combine genomic methods with greenhouse experiments and ecological field studies to address how ecological processes and genomic architecture interact to shape resource allocation into sexual and asexual reproduction, and how this variation facilitates the origination of ploidy-level variation.


How can hybridization create novel variation?

Hybrid species have genetic variation from two divergent parent species, and this provides excellent opportunities to address how interactions between different parts of the genome have shaped genome evolution as the origin of genomic regions can be identified. Taking advantage of this we address which genes are involved in reproductive isolation a) through identifying regions where Dobzhansky-Muller Incompatibilities have been purged through reversion to the ancestral state and b) through investigating the role of epistatic interactions in the large effect of the Z chromosome. We also investigate the role of Transposable Elements (TEs) in hybrid genome formation in collaboration with Dr. Alexander Suh and whether methylation can cause or remedy incompatibilities in collaboration with Dr. Marjorie Lienard, Caroline Ø Guldvog, Mark Ravinet and Prof. Glenn-Peter Sætre.


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Contact information

Anna Runemark
Evolutionary Ecology

Telephone: +46 46 222 3613
E-mail: Anna [dot] Runemark [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se