The long-term goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptive traits. The majority of the Weigel group investigates genetic diversity, which is being studied on several different levels. In addition to forward genetic analyses of wild Arabidopsis thaliana strains, we are examining sequence variation and its impact on a spectrum of phenotypes, including hybrid performance, on a whole-genome, whole-species scale. Such studies benefit tremendously from knowledge about the genomes of other species, and we have taken the lead in assembling genome sequences for several A. thaliana relatives.
In all of these areas, second-generation sequencing is playing a major role. The department has been at the forefront of developing bioinformatic methods for the analysis of Illumina (Solexa) data, and has been using these for a range of applications, from sequencing A. thaliana strains to mapping of transcription factor binding sites and one-step mutation identification.