Please visit my homepage at: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~mhufford/HuffordLab/home.html
As a plant evolutionary biologist, I am fascinated by questions of local adaptation. Crop plants and their wild relatives are compelling study systems in this regard. During the process of domestication, crops adapted to human preferences and human-dominated environments. Subsequent to domestication, many crops have spread from centers of origin into vastly different environments, again requiring dramatic adaptation for continued survival. While in many instances this adaptation likely occurred from standing variation or de novo, we are finding increasing evidence that locally adapted wild relatives have donated beneficial alleles to crops during their global spread. My research utilizes the genomic resources of maize to address questions of local adaptation in diverse collections of landraces and the wild relatives of maize, collectively known as teosinte.
Current research projects are utilizing genomic data to study independent adaptations of maize landraces to highland environments in the Mexican Central Plateau and the Andes of South America, the adaptive role of gene flow and introgression across taxa in the genus Zea, and evidence for centromere drive as an evolutionary force in Zea and the broader Poaceae.