Lasky Lab
Evolutionary ecology and genetics


Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University


Evolutionary biology genotype, phenotype, environment



We study the drivers of genetic variation in ecologically important traits, primarily in plants.

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

Key study organisms include the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, traditional varieties (landraces) of Sorghum (and other crops), Striga hermonthica, and multiple tree species.



Photo: The lab, May 2018.


Lab news


22 July 2019


I am currently looking for postdocs and PhD students, with the possibility of working on a variety of projects. Particular topics of interest are local adaptation to environment, ecological and evolutionary response to environmental change, invasion, and species interactions. Postdoc ad here.

11 June 2019


The first publications are coming out from our work on cereal crop interactions with Striga parasitic plants. This work was made possible by collaborations with Claude dePamphilis at Penn State who leads our parasitic plant quarantine facility. These are the first of hopefully many papers on the genetics, ecophysiology, ecology, and coevolution of host-Striga interactions.

Former postdoc (currently a Research Assistant Professor at Binghamton) Lúa López has a paper on transcriptomes of Striga hermonthica across different host species. Current NSF postdoc Emily Bellis has a preprint on the genomics of sorghum local adaptation to regions of high Striga prevalence.

4 January 2019


Welcome new Bioinformatics and Genomics PhD student Jeremy Sutherland. Jeremy will be coadvised by Terrence Bell in PPEM in close collaboration with John Carlson in ESM (PSU). Jeremy is funded by a USDA Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy grant on switchgrass. We will be studying genotype-environment interactions, rhizopshere microbiomes, disease resistance, and local adaptation. Jeremy previously received a BS at U of Illinois-Chicago and worked at USDA APHIS.

12 September 2018


Suzana Alcantara of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, is visiting the lab this week.

1 September 2018


We said a sad goodbye to departing postdoc Lúa López and visiting PhD student Asnake Haile. Lúa moved on to a position as a Research Assistant Professor developing a Freshman Research Immersion at Binghamton University. Asnake returns to Ethiopia to finish his PhD.

22 July 2018


PhD student Victoria DeLeo and I taught lessons at the PSU Arboretum this weekend as a part of Eberly College's Science-U program and the PA BBVS summer academy.

19 July 2018


Grey Monroe, a student working on drought adaptation at Colorado State in John McKay's lab, is visiting us.

5 May 2018


Congratulations to Sarah Lucas in our lab who just graduated with a Bachelor's in Biology, summa cum laude! Sarah studied genetic variation in traits and demography in tree provenance trials. She moves on to get a Master's in Science Education at PSU.

28 March 2018


Welcome! to visiting PhD student Asnake Haile. Asnake is a student at Addis Ababa University with Tigist Wondimu. While here he will be studying climate adaptation in Arabidopsis.

1 January 2018


Welcome! to new NSF Plant Genome Fellow Emily Bellis. While here, Emily will be studying host-parasite coevolution in the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica, using sequences from a time series of herbarium specimens. Emily comes to us from Reed College where she was a postdoc.

10 December 2017


Welcome! to new Eberly Fellow Kathryn Turner. While here, Kathryn will be studying adaptation in invasive populations of Chorispora tenella, using sequences from a time series of herbarium specimens. Kathryn comes to us from Colorado State University where she was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow.

18 October 2017


Two recent publications demonstrate some of our modeling advances in genotype-by-environment interactions. The plot above is taken from a new TREE paper (Gienapp et al. 2017) where we model how winter temperature-of-origin is associated with a genomic relatedness matrix in Arabidopsis. We then show how out-of-sample predictions of this model closely correspond to changes in the optimal Arabidopsis genotype in four common gardens of different winter temperatures.
Separately, we demonstrated the ability of a new approach to identify genetic loci associated with home allele advantage, loci putatively causing local adaptation. The plot below is taken from our new Molecular Ecology Resources paper (Lasky et al. 2017), showing an example of an identified locus where home SNP alleles had higher fitness across four common gardens.

13 September 2017


We recently got up into the canopy on a lift to get leaf samples from the black walnut provenance trial.