MSc and HBSc Research
Climate change is expected to increase mean global surface temperatures by 4°C by 2100. The implications are expected to be severe: from wild population collapses to biodiversity loss. For my MSc, I investigated whether a field mustard (Brassica rapa) could adapt to future climatic conditions. By simulating a warmer climate at the Koffler Scientific Reserve, I was able to assess the adaptive potential of B. rapa using a quantitative genetics-based approach. The results are quite dim. While this annual plant can respond plastically to warming, it doesn't have to capacity to adapt to warmer conditions in the short-term.
MSc side project
What causes heritability (and additive genetic variance) to change between environments? With undergraduate student Mia Sibolibane, I compared components of genetic variance in Brassica rapa between controlled greenhouse versus variable field conditions. Our hypothesis was that additive genetic variance should increase from a conversion of dominance genetic variance. We did not for support for our hypothesis and invite researchers to revisit this potential cause for an increase in additive genetic variance.
Heatwaves are becoming a common occurrence because of climate change. What are the implications for farmers and the crops that they grow? For my HBSc, I ran a growth chamber experiment to test the resilience of an oilseed crop (Camelina sativa) to heatwaves imposed at different times in the flowering schedule. With Sarah Hall, we found that this oilseed crop responds plastically to heatwaves timed at different intervals. Plants regenerate seed after heat damage at levels similar to controls. Nevertheless, there seems to be no genetic variation for artificial selection to maintain seed yield at sustained levels of heat damage.
Sarah Hall's Thesis (Paper under a stack of to-dos)