Di Stilio Lab

University of Washington, Biology

The Di Stilio lab investigates the evolution and development of plants, focusing on the genetic basis of key innovations.. We are broadly interested in the genetic basis of floral diversification, with a focus on the comparative expression and function of floral transcription factors involved in flower meristem identity (LEAFY), organ identity (MADS box family) and organ elaboration (MYB family). Current work is conducted mainly in the genus Thalictrum, a non-core Eudicot in the family Ranunculaceae with a variety of floral form and function. Other plant systems investigated in the lab inlcude Lepidium and the fern Ceratopteris richardii.

Current projects include:

1) Functional evolution of flower organ identity genes in the ranunculid Thalictrum: implications for transitions in breeding and pollination systems. We are investigating the function of ABCE model genes using virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) and horticultural mutants in Thalictrum thalictroides and relatives.

2) Developmental genetics of pollination-related floral phenotypes in Thalictrum. Functional evolution of flower organ elaboration genes (MYB trascription factors) and their role in epidermal cell elongations in flowers (conical cells, trichomes and stigmatic papillae) in relation to pollination syndrome (insect/wind).

3) Evolution of breeding systems and pollination syndromes in Thalictrum. Ancestral character state reconstructions and character correlation analyses.

4) Polyploidy and evolution of genome size in Thalictrum.

5) Evolution of dioecy and sex determination in Thalictrum and Lepidium (Brassicaceae).

6) Phylogeny of the genus Thalictrum (Ranunculaceae).

7) The role of LEAFY in pre-flowering plant lineages (ferns).