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Conifers have been successfully adapting to changing climates over the past 250 million years, resulting in high genetic diversity and broad environmental ranges. However, long generation times combined with the greatly increased rate of climate change globally challenges trees’ ability to adapt, resulting in weakened individuals and eventually stand loss due to, e.g., catastrophic fire or disease. We seek to understand the biological basis of climate adaptation in conifers, and, in applied context, predict individuals that can make locally adapted populations more resilient to changing climate.
We use quantitative, computational and population genetic approaches in forests across Europe to understand climate adaptation in Norway Spruce, an economically and ecologically critical tree species with cultivated and natural stands across Europe. Domesticated plants and animals have been rapidly adapting to novel environments for the past 10,000 years and we maintain research in ancient maize genomics. Our conifer research is informed by crop genomic approaches, and we employ deep learning approaches for fast and replicable phenotyping.
Kelly studied biology and anthropology at the Univ. of Michigan. She holds a M.A. in archaeology and archaeobotany from Northern Arizona University, and focused on maize quantitative genetics and computational biology for a Ph.D at Cornell (Buckler lab). She did a short postdoc in Tuebingen, Germany in ancient DNA (Burbano/Krause) before moving to the GMI/Max Perutz Labs in January 2019.