Nitrogen and phosphorus selection on genome size in the British flora

Theme: Evolution & Adaptation

Primary Supervisor:

Andrew Leitch

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL

Andrew Leitch's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Nucleic acids provide a substantial cellular demand for Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P). You will examine whether these macronutrients influence the distribution of angiosperms based on their genome size and efficiency of RNA use.

Despite the cost of DNA, there is an astonishing c. 2,400-fold range in genome sizes in angiosperms.Yet how this range is affected by macronutrient availability is unknown.

You will test the hypothesis that nutrient poor soils (low in N and P) select for species with reduced genome size and reduced RNA pool size. We will exploit the Plant DNA C-values database, species distribution data for the British Isles and LIDOR to correlate species C-values with underlying geology, soil type and land use. The approach will give us new insights into the role of macronutrients in shaping the British flora.

Policy Impact of Research:

The research gives insights into dynamic processes affecting ecosystem functioning, leading to a better understanding of long-term consequences of fertilisers to the environment and agriculture.

It will help conservationists and land managers protect biodiversity.

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