Research in the Hileman lab is highly integrative and involves phylogenetic, morphological, genomic, gene expression and gene functional analyses to address fundamental questions including:
- What are the genetic changes that are responsible for evolutionary transitions in floral form?
- To what extent is parallel trait evolution the result of parallel genetic changes?
- How are developmental networks conserved and in what ways have they diversified during flowering plant evolution – especially following gene duplication and gene loss events?
- How does parent environment determine offspring phenotype?
We study conservation/diversification of the CYCLOIDEA-dependent flower symmetry developmental program across eudicots and monocots. We are particularly interested in how evolutionary changes in the program shape flower diversity.
We study the evolution of pollination syndrome floral traits in Penstemon in order to understand the extent to which genetic parallelism determines floral trait parallelism. We are also studying how floral trait interactions (epistasis) and the genetic architecture of floral trait differences constrain the way in which floral syndromes evolve. Work in Penstemon is in collaboration with Dr. Mark Rausher (Duke University), and Dr. Carrie Wessinger (postdoc in the Hileman lab), and is funded by two NSF grants, one through the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.
We use Mimulus guttatus as a model to determine the mechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance of phenotypic variation (e.g., trichome density and flowering time) in response to parental environment – In collaboration with Dr. John Kelly (University of Kansas).