Understanding natural variation within and between species is important to comprehend how species evolve and adapt to various environments. On a practical level, studies of within-species diversity and the nature of molecular variation within genomes have been exploited to map genes underlying human diseases and agriculturally important traits. Examining genetic diversity is also important to aid the conservation of both economically and/or ecologically important species. Finally, at a higher level, one can also examine between-species interactions that may be important in both ecosystem function and organismal development.
The main project on date palm genomics will build on our successful work in the last 5 years to study the population genomics of this key crop species in the Middle East, as well as our general study of crop domestication. Other affiliated projects are:
A) A new project to study genome variation in the falcon species complex, to investigate variation and hybridization in this culturally important species group, and;
B) A project to examine the evolution of root cell types and associated mycorrhizae in millets aimed at improving sustainable agricultural practices in grain crops.