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Comparative Genomics and Genome Evolution of Oak Tree Species
March 12 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am EST
Our departmental seminar speaker this week is Beant Kapoor, who will be presenting his Ph.D. Proposal Seminar titled “Comparative Genomics and Genome Evolution of Oak Tree Species”. Join us at 10:30 am EST/9:30 am CST on Friday via the Zoom link (below) information that is provided at the end of this message.
Oaks (genus Quercus) have approximately 500 species worldwide and over 50 species native to the eastern United States. Oaks dominate 46% of the eastern United States (US) forestland which contributes $348 billion to the US economy annually. In addition to providing essential food and habitat for wildlife, they play a vital role for rural economies, and support various important industries such as furniture, cabinetry, flooring, barrels for wine and spirits, and more. However, many oak species are declining as a result of complex interplay between disease outbreaks, insect attack, and deer browse that have been exacerbated by climate shifts and invasive species. Current forest demographic trends for eastern US oaks indicate a significant threat to sustainability as the regeneration of young oaks plummets. This dissertation aims to develop genomic resources for oak research, beginning with a near-complete haplotype resolved genome of the highly heterozygous white oak (Quercus alba). The white oak genome assembly is ongoing, with PacBio HiFi reads being assembled to generate a scaffold level assembly and Hi-C data being generated to support scaffolding to chromosome-level. Through comparison with the publicly available genome of red oak (Quercus rubra), the evolutionary history of the two species will be characterized, including genomic structure and gene family expansion/contraction. As the first comparison of genome sequences between different oak sections, this data may reveal the genomic basis of the inability for hybridization between species of Quercus section Quercus (the white oaks) and Quercus section Lobatae (the red oaks). The overall goal of this project is to expand on the existing knowledge of ecologically and economically important, yet threatened, oak tree species by generating new genomic resources.