The molecular genetic basis of plant adaptation

Ian M. Ehrenreich, Michael D. Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


How natural selection on adaptive traits is filtered to the genetic level remains largely unknown. Theory and quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping have provided insights into the number and effect of genes underlying adaptations, but these results have been hampered by questions of applicability to real biological systems and poor resolution, respectively. Advances in molecular technologies have expedited the cloning of adaptive genes through both forward and reverse genetic approaches. Forward approaches start with adaptive traits and attempt to characterize their underlying genetic architectures through linkage disequilibrium mapping, QTL mapping, and other methods. Reverse screens search large sequence data sets for genes that possess the signature of selection. Though both approaches have been successful in identifying adaptive genes in plants, very few, if any, of these adaptations' molecular bases have been fully resolved. The continued isolation of plant adaptive genes will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of natural selection's effect on genes and genomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-962
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2006


  • Evolutionary genetics
  • Genetic variation
  • Genomics
  • Natural selection
  • Plant molecular evolution
  • Polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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