We propose to study chromosomal structural variation in the Mimulus genome. This work will focus on the Mimulus guttatus species complex, a diverse group of plants with a broad range of phenotypic diversity and habitat specialization. The primary goal of this study will be to make a first attempt at estimating the extent of structural variation within the Mimulus guttatus species complex. The long-term goal of the proposed project is serve as a starting point to determine what role, if any, structural variation has played in the evolution of ecological traits with this complex. Because of the significant natural variation found within these species and their utility and wide-spread use in evolutionary and ecological studies, this project will open up exciting and novel research directions. Studies in humans have shown that there are considerable levels of genomic structural variation within individuals. A small number of these structural variants have been connected to human disease, however, on the whole we have a very limited understanding of the impact genomic structural variation has had on organismal phenotype. The long-term goal of our study is to tackle this problem by connecting these genomic changes to phenotypic evolution. I am very excited about the possibilities the future holds for understanding the genetic basis of ecologically important traits in natural systems. My long-term career goal is to integrate the fast moving field of genomics with evolutionary biology, ecology, and genetics to study evolution and adaptation in natural plant systems. These problems are complex, and they require significant background in each of the fields mentioned above. The proposed project will give me the opportunity to develop my skills in each of these fronts. Specifically, the project will involve the integration of cutting edge genomic technology with evolutionary analyses in Mimulus a model system for evolutionary and ecological studies. The single major skill I hope to develop through this proposal is the ability to study evolution and genetics on multiple levels, from the genome of an individual, to a population, and beyond to a diversification of species. During my PhD research I have primarily focused on genomics, molecular evolution, and population genetics. These form a core set of skill from which I can build. Portions of the proposed project I will enhance these core skills, for example the fine-scale analysis of multiple Mimulus genomes. Other portions of the project will develop totally new skills, for example linking genomic structural variation to the evolution of complex traits in natural populations. I believe that learning new theories and skills, while at the same time building on my existing strengths is the ideal path toward a productive and rewarding postdoctoral research experience.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F08-F (20))
Program Officer
Bender, Michael T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Duke University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Sweigart, Andrea L; Flagel, Lex E (2015) Evidence of natural selection acting on a polymorphic hybrid incompatibility locus in Mimulus. Genetics 199:543-54
Flagel, Lex E; Willis, John H; Vision, Todd J (2014) The standing pool of genomic structural variation in a natural population of Mimulus guttatus. Genome Biol Evol 6:53-64