After learning about the possible ecological consequences of WGD and allopolyploidy on biotic interactions and stress resistance in the study system of Arabidopsis kamchatica during previous studies, I got interested in polyploid plants and their importance for the evolution and ecology. Arabidopsis kamchatica is an allotetraploid species derived from Arabidopsis lyrata and Arabidopsis halleri (heavy metal accumulator species). Studies have revealed that the allotetraploid plant inherited its hyperaccumulating ability as an advantageous trait as it is related to elemental defense against herbivores. Interactions with herbivores have important implications for the ecology and evolution of this species, and I would like to further study this on a more theoretical level, using ecological modeling of populations and individual-based models. Besides this group, I will also be a part of Terrestrial Ecology Unit, co-supervised by Prof. Dries Bonte. My specific topic during PhD will be the eco-evo dynamics of polyploid establishment and the coexistence with diploid progenitors, despite the challenges such as minority cytotype exclusion, fertility decrease, cell division issues and general competition for resources in already filled niches. I am particularly interested in understanding the dynamics of populations in heterogeneous environments where changes in metabolic and reproductive traits due to the WGD may play a crucial role.
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