Research

One of the underlying goals of biological research is to understand the relationship between structure and function in living organisms. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in understanding the genome of an organism. The genome of an organism encodes the biological information that makes the living organism. All organisms share the basic structure of their genome and its central role in the biology of the organism. We have been researching the structure of genomes since the origins of the human genome project and subsequent model organism genome projects in the early 1990s. Those early projects focused on developing the technology and implementing it to determine the structure of a small number of reference genomes. Since then we have moved to the point where we can look at individual genomes in a species and how the variation among them determines their biological properties. Examples of these biological properties are susceptibility to disease in humans and the ability of one plant strain to thrive in an adverse environment while others of the same species struggle.

Our lab has historically had two major themes in answering these questions. The first of these is developing new ways to elucidate genome structure more cheaply and more efficiently. The second has been to use those new technologies to understand salient differences in genomes that lead to important biological features such as susceptibility to disease or understanding differences between plant genomes as examples. How these different areas are currently being studied are shown on pages devoted to each of the research areas undertaken by the lab.