Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
Cooperation among species has long been a hurdle for Darwinian natural selection since theory predicts that mutualists frequently turns into parasites and exploit their partner, a prediction which proves rare empirically. Besides, mutualisms are essential for ecosystem functioning and provides key ecosystem to us, yet we know so little about them. My work focuses on understanding the drivers of major transitions in mutualistic strategies (evolution of cooperation, specialization, dependency, breakdown) as well as the genetic basis underpinning those shifts. The details of any DPhil project would be defined in discussion with the student, but a number of possible avenues, questions and scales are possible and are likely to entail phylogenomics, genomics, comparative methods or/and fieldwork.
Associated Research Streams
biotic interactions, mutualism, macroevolution, phylogenomics, tropical ecology, plant evolution