Evolutionary genetics, physiology, & ecology

We study the evolution of ecologically important traits, primarily focusing on plant populations.

Currently we focus on understanding the genetic, physiological, and ecological mechanisms of local adaptation to environment and host-symbiont coevolution. Key study organisms include:

  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Sorghum landraces (traditional varieties)
  • Striga hermonthica
  • Teak (Tectona grandis)
  • Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

For a more complete and detailed overview of our work, see our:


Photo: The lab, September 2019.

Lab news

Postdoc position

21 April 2021
We are hiring a postdoctoral researcher to work on evolutionary genomics, specifically on one or more of the following topics: local adaptation, gene expression plasticity, climate adaptation, and plant-microbe interactions. Apply here. and please send any inquiries to lasky@psu.edu.

Welcome Amanda Penn!

20 April 2021
Welcome to new research technologist Amanda Penn. Amanda comes to us from the PA Bureau of Forestry, and previously received her M.S. from Purdue where she studied tree population and conservation genetics.

Welcome Erica Lawrence!

1 February 2021
Welcome to new postdoctoral researcher Erica Lawrence. Erica recently received her PhD from University of Pennsylvania where she studied the genetics and physiology of vegetative phase change.

First BromeCast paper

15 December 2020
We published the first paper from our collaborative NSF project on genomics, invasion, and population forecasting of Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass). This paper is an overview and perspective on integrating mechanisms (e.g. genetics) into large-scale population forecasts.

Welcome Diana Gamba!

8 September 2020
Welcome to new postdoctoral researcher Diana Gamba. Diana received her PhD from the University of Missouri Saint Louis where she studied ecological mechanisms influencing genetic differentiation among plant populations.

Welcome Chloee McLaughlin!

24 April 2020
We welcome new PhD student Chloee McLaughlin to the lab. She will be co-advised with Ruairidh Sawers.

Crop landrace papers

14 March 2020
We have recently published two papers using crop landraces (traditional local variaties) to understand diversity within and among populations.
Former lab postdoc Emily Bellis led a paper studying how sorghum landraces adapt to the presence of a parasite (PNAS).
We collaborated with Rafal Gutaker & the Purugganan Lab to study how gene flow and adaptation to new environments has shaped the diversity of rice landraces (Nature Plants).

Cover of GCB

1 March 2020
PhD student Victoria DeLeo's paper on phenotypic change in Arabidopsis was on the cover of this month's issue of Global Change Biology.