Catalysis Meeting

Evolutionary Origins and Development of Woody Plants

PI(s): Andrew Groover (US Forest Service and University of California-Davis)
Quentin Cronk (Department of Botany, University of British Columbia)
Start Date: 1-May-2011
End Date: 30-Apr-2012
Keywords: evo-devo, evolutionary genetics, genomics, life histories, morphology

The vascular cambium was a major evolutionary innovation that enabled the radial growth of woody plants (termed secondary growth), and resulted in appearance of diverse growth forms ranging from forest trees to lianas. Our understanding of the genes and molecular mechanisms regulating the cambium and secondary growth is quickly advancing with the application of genomic technologies within a limited number of model species. While there is a rich history of anatomical, paleontological, and systematics research for woody species, there has been little mixing among these disciplines with recent developmental or genomics-based research. A paradigm shift in research into the evolution and development of woody plants could be realized by pairing these traditional disciplines with new genomics and sequencing technologies. The purpose of this Catalysis meeting is to bring together researchers from currently disjoint disciplines to develop effective strategies for establishing a new synthetic field of study, the evolution of development for woody plants. Specific challenges for the meeting include:
1) Develop strategies for identifying ancestral mechanisms regulating woody growth.
2) Develop strategies for identifying the genetic basis of anatomical and biochemical variation within and among taxa.
3) Develop strategies for identifying mechanisms for transitions between herbaceous and woody growth forms.
4) Determine sampling strategies for comparative sequencing and gene expression studies.
5) Identify candidate taxa for establishing new woody model species.
6) Identify needed computational approaches, informatics and databases.
7) Identify key scientific community-building needs and strategies.
8) Identify foundation publications that would promote this field of study.