The Conservation Genetics team applies modern molecular techniques to addressing the following key research areas. Wherever possible, genetics research programs are integrated with other BGPA Science disciplines, including restoration ecology, seed biology, ecophysiology, and conservation biotechnology.
- Assessment of genetic variation in the context of resilience to climate change and other threatening processes.
- Monitoring of genetic fidelity and variation for the management of ex-situ and translocated conservation collections.
- Identification of levels and spatial structure of genetic variation within and among natural populations for the assessment of impact and conservation management.
- Genetic delineation of local provenance seed collection zones for improved native plant community restoration outcomes.
- Experimental assessment of local adaptation and the consequences of mixing of genetic provenances in a restoration context for improved native plant community restoration outcomes.
- The genetic assessment of ecological restoration success.
Taxonomy and phylogeny
- Taxonomic assessment and molecular phylogenetic research for an improved understanding of the diversity and natural relationships of native taxa.
Population genetic processes
- Assessment of genetic processes behind the diversification and evolution of our biodiversity, including mating and the dispersal of pollen and seed.
Evolution and adaptation
- Application of population genomic and transcriptomic approaches to find genes that are adaptive in the natural environment, quantify their diversity, and to reveal their ecological and physiological function.
Molecular forensics and identification
- Use of a DNA barcoding approach as a rapid species identification tool for conservation outcomes.
- Application of DNA fingerprinting and DNA sequencing techniques for molecular ecological forensics and identification.
- Application of DNA fingerprinting and DNA sequencing for more efficient native plant breeding for horticultural markets.
Mating and dispersal
- Understanding of realised mating patterns, pollen dispersal and the factors influencing reproductive success, in natural plant populations.
- Detailed analysis of realized long-distance dispersal of seed for an assessment of migration capacity in the face of climate change and other threatening processes.
- Assessing the influence of landscape factors on the levels and spatial structuring of genetic variation, and especially the impacts of habitat fragmentation on genetic variation within and among populations.
Modern molecular techniques
Key techniques employed during research include:
- Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP)
- DNA sequencing
- Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs)
- reciprocal transplant experiments
- glasshouse trials
- pollination manipulation experiments.