For my dissertation, in the Baucom Lab, I looked at the evolutionary potential of an agricultural weed, the common morning glory. Baker (1974) identified a list of traits that make up an 'ideal' weed. These traits include characteristics such as rapid growth rate, high seed output, and being tolerant and plastic. Despite his work being heavily cited there has been little to no work that have examined the microevolutionary potential of these traits. Using the principles of quantitative genetics in both the field and green house I have examined the evolvability of weediness in the common morning glory. My dissertation encompasses three major studies: first, I investigate genetic variation of key weediness traits. Second, I've look at the costs and benefits of tolerance to competition in the common morning glory when grown in interspecific competition with maize. And third, I combined original research and big data analysis to investigate the 'general purpose genotype', a term coined by Baker for plants that are able to tolerate a wide range of edaphic conditions.
"Weeds are excellent subjects for the study of adaptation and microevolution"
Plant flowering time plays an important role in plant fitness and thus evolutionary processes. Soil microbial communities are diverse and have a large impact, both positive and negative, on the host plant. However, owing to few available studies, how the soil microbial community may influence the evolutionary response of plant populations is not well understood. Here we sought to uncover whether belowground microbial communities act as an agent of selection on flowering and growth traits in the common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea.
Chaney, L., & Baucom, R. S. (2020). The soil microbial community alters patterns of selection on flowering time and fitness‐related traits in Ipomoea purpurea. American journal of botany, 107(2), 186-194. DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.1426; Analysis Code: https://github.com/lchaney/MG_Microbe; Data: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p8350q3;