Evolutionary Genetics

Welcome to the Eckert Lab located in the Department of Biology at VCU. Our lab works on the evolutionary genetics of conifers addressing a variety of questions related to the genetic architecture of adaptation within and among species. If you have questions or would like to join the lab, please contact us at: aeckert2@vcu.edu.


Southwestern white pine garden at Dorena Genetic Resource Center

Adaptation results from the action of natural selection increasing the prevalence of the most fit genotypes within lineages. Our lab focuses mainly on local adaptation, where different populations located in different environments experience different selective pressures and thus diverge genetically and phenotypically.

Genetic Architecture of Adaptation

Lind et al. (2018) Tree Genetics & Genomes 14: 29

Genetic architecture refers to the identity, functional type, genomic location, diversity patterns within and among populations, and interactions with other loci and environments of causative genetic elements for fitness-related traits. Our lab works on questions related to the identification of genetic architectures of locally adapted populations.

Evolution of Genetic Architecture

Pines along the York River, Virginia

Genetic architectures evolve in different fashions dependent upon their characteristics. For example, strong directional selection acting on simple architectures can result in different allele frequency dynamics across populations as compared to when it acts upon complex architectures. Our lab works on questions related to how genetic architectures evolve within and across natural populations.

Adaptation & Speciation

Menon et al. (2018) Molecular Ecology 27: 1245 - 1260

Adaptation results from the sorting of genetic variation within and among populations based on the fitness effects manifested by this variation. In many organisms, genetic variation results from not only mutation, but also introgression from other species. Our lab utilizes this framework to address questions about the role of local adaptation in constraining or enhancing the development of reproductive isolation.