The molecular underpinnings of adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana
Juliette de Meaux, Plant Molecular Evolution, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Münster, Germany
The theories used in Evolutionary Biology are rooted in powerful concepts, most of which were constructed before the discovery of DNA. In the meantime, we understand much better how function is encoded in the genome. The current task is now to examine how genetic modifications in molecular systems can promote adaptation in natural populations. Arabidopsis thaliana is a focal system in plant molecular biology. Genes and pathways controlling its development, physiology and immunity have been researched intensively. Its broad latitudinal distribution in Europe makes it a unique system to dissect the molecular underpinnings of adaptation. I will review some of the molecular changes that have been successfully associated with adaptive evolution in A. thaliana. I will thereby illustrate why reconciling molecular and evolutionary biology is a difficult yet necessary task, requiring a shift of concepts in both molecular biology and evolutionary theory.