Joint Calls

Leveraging the genome sequences of two Arabidopsis relatives for evolutionary and ecological genomics

  • Acronym ARelatives
  • Duration 1 July 2007 - 1 January 2010
  • Project leader Detlef Weigel, MPI for Developmental Biology, Germany
  • Other project participants Mikkel Heide Schierup, Aarhus University, Denmark
    Yves van de Peer, Ghent University, Belgium
    Outi Savolainen, University of Oulu, Finland
    Barbara Neuffer, University of Osnabrück, Germany
    Deborah Charlesworth, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Michael Lenhard, John Innes Center, United Kingdom
    Barbara Mable, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Funding Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI), Denmark
    Flemish Government, Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI), Flanders (BE)
    The Academy of Finland (AKA), Finland
    The German Research Foundation (DFG), Germany
    Biotechnological and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK
  • Total Granted budget € 2,263,398


The overall strategic objective of ERA-PG is to build links between leading research teams and to boost the overall competitiveness of plant genomics in Europe. This proposal brings together some of the very best European scientists in the areas of evolutionary and ecological genomics, including junior and senior groups. Understanding the forces driving plant evolution is an essential prerequisite if we want to comprehend the mechanisms underlying plant adaptation. This, in turn, will enable the more efficient breeding of crops that are better adapted to the environment. We are currently experiencing a drastic decline in whole-genome sequencing costs, which will provide unprecedented opportunities in all crop plants. The work done in ARelatives will help us to exploit these new opportunities.
The ARelatives Consortium exploits the impending completion of two new plant genome sequences, those of single strains of Arabidopsis lyrata and Capsella rubella, currently under way at the Joint Genome Institute of the US Department of Energy ( Although this multi-million dollar project is funded entirely by the US government, members of this ERA-PG team have played key roles in developing this project. In ARelatives, we are leveraging the information generated by DOE-JGI, both through bioinformatic analyses that address questions of selection and adaptation on a genome-wide scale, and through functional genomic, genetic and ecological avenues that will provide experimental evidence for specific adaptation events. Together, these approaches will set the stage for applying similar strategies in crop species.
Our specific aims are

  • (1) to detect genomic regions responsible for species-specific adaptation,
  • (2) to identify genetic variation affecting a model adaptive trait, flowering time, in Arabidopsis and Capsella, and
  • (3) to compare evolution of self-incompatibility in Arabidopsis and Capsella.
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