PhD project: Adapting to extreme environments: Hybridisation and the evolution of contemporary heavy metal tolerance
Location: 3rd Floor, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology/Environment Centre Wales, Bangor University, Bangor
I studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences (Evolutionary Biology) at the University of Edinburgh, where I first developed my interest in evolutionary biology. I find it fascinating studying how populations and species change over time and what forces influence this. I then went on to study an MSc in Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary University of London. My masters developed my interest in using bioinformatic techniques to help answer evolutionary questions. I conducted my dissertation project with researchers from The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I used signals of convergent evolution between ash species to detect potential loci associated with ash dieback resistance.
For my PhD I am investigating the genotypic changes underlying adaptation of populations of Silene uniflora (Sea campion) to heavy-metal contaminated soils across the UK and Europe. I aim to determine whether hybridisation with a neighbouring species, Silene vulgaris, may have introduced alleles that are adaptive against heavy metals. Additionally, I am interested in whether colonisation of heavy metal contaminated mine sites is associated with increased reproductive isolation. I will integrate both genomic and experimental data to help investigate these topics.