Mabel Fuentes Vergara - MSc Student
All organisms adapt to changes in their surrounding environments. Plants may synchronize the timing of critical life stages to maximize survival and reproduction in environmental conditions that are constantly changing. For example, plants may alter flowering time to maximize pollinator visits while minimizing herbivory. Plants can respond to environmental challenges through adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity. Genetic changes arise as a result of natural selection while phenotypic plasticity is mainly regulated through variable gene expression. Rapid evolution and inducible trait variation may both be important mechanisms of plant invasion. My thesis applies transcriptome sequencing to study plasticity and genetic variation in gene expression of two invasive plants: Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) and Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard).