Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular evolutionary dynamics of developmental pathways. The work revolves around studying the molecular evolution of genes that control shoot architecture and flower development in the wild mustard weed Arabidopsis thaliana.
This research group is engaged in assessing the evolutionary forces that act in plant developmental pathways at the species level, and mapping and isolating genes that underlie natural variation in shoot architectures and life histories. This work combines concepts and techniques in molecular population genetics, quantitative genetics, developmental biology and evolutionary ecology.
Research includes studying the evolution and ecology of daylength-dependent inflorescence development patterns, evolution of meristem allocation patterns, and molecular population genetics of the inflorescence developmental pathway in Arabidopsis. Another major thrust in our laboratory is to use island species that have undergone recent, rapid adaptive radiation to study the genetics and molecular evolution of genes that control development. The Purugganan laboratory is studying genes from members of the Hawaiian silversword alliance, a group of plants found in the Hawaiian archipelago that possess spectacular differences in inflorescence morphologies and shoot architectures between closely-related species.