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Duration: 2014 - 2017

GeneScale — Very high-resolution digital elevation models for multi-scale analysis in landscape genomics

Arabis alpina
Arabis alpina in a characteristic scree habitat (photo: F. Gugerli)
At which spatial scale can selection be tracked? Very high-resolution environmental and genome-wide molecular characterization in Arabis alpina shall indicate if local adaptation acts locally or globally.

Though termed local in the scientific jargon, adaptation to environmental variation is usually related to very coarse spatial resolution. In the interdisciplinary project GeneScale, financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, we study the relationship between genomic variation and environmental conditions, using the Alpine rock-cress (Arabis alpina) as a model species of ecological genetics. In four study regions (Modiplant), we describe individual microsites on the basis of very high-resolution digital elevation models established through radiation data. These data will be assessed using an unmanned flying vehicle (senseFly) and transformed into ecologically relevant environmental factors. In parallel, we apply state-of-the-art molecular approaches (genome re-sequencing) to determine genetic variation at thousands of genes in individual plants sampled at various spatial scales. Regression-based statistical analyses shall demonstrate how genomic variation relates to environmental conditions under which indivuals are able to grow. Our results should thus reveal if local adaptation is local or is relevant on a broader geographic scale.

Project partners

Keywords landscape genomics, Arabis alpina, local adaptation, digital elevation model, micro-habitat, transposable elements, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, environmental association