Rapid evolution is a common occurrence in biological invasions. However, our understanding of this phenomenon is still limited. Many studies underestimate among-population variation, within and between native and non-native ranges, and do not particularly address how population history dictates these variations. Moreover, there is a need for interdisciplinary frameworks to identify the molecular mechanisms of rapid evolution. In my research, we will address the gap by studying rapid evolution in competitive ability in native vs. nonnative Conyza canadensis.
Conyza canadensis is an annual weed with a very high individual seed production, pronounced drought tolerance and high plasticity. These traits make this species a successful invader and an economically significant agricultural weed, and as such, an important model species for both invasion biology and weed science. The species is native to North America and non-native to large parts of the rest of the temperate and subtropical world. This cosmopolitan distribution allows studying among-population variation in biotic interactions across large climatic gradients.
C. canadensis has a high capability for rapid evolution given by that it was the first eudicot that evolved glyphosate resistance. This capability for rapid evolution may be promoted by the genome architecture of C. canadensis.
To 2013 - 2020 I worked with Euterpe edulis, a palm species considered at risk of extinction by the Red List of species of the Brazilian flora. I learned and apply fieldwork methods and molecular techniques to answer plant ecology questions.
I started as an intern in the molecular ecology lab when I was still an undergrad. I got fascinated by the possibility of studying seed dispersal processes through molecular tools and that interest resulted in my senior thesis intitled "Dispersal limitation by distance and genetic diversity of Juçara palm (Euterpe edulis) seeds in Atlantic Forest fragments”. My project aimed at understanding if seed dispersal distances and the genetic diversity of the Juçara palm were associated with the level of defaunation across Atlantic Forest remnants.
In my master’s research, I investigate the impact of large avian frugivores loss on seed dispersal processes. I use microsatellite loci and maternity analysis to quantify the rate of seed immigration at fine spatial scales in ten Atlantic forest remnants. Using this data, we are able to estimate short dispersal distances and measure coancestry between seeds to assess the magnitude of the spatial genetic structure in the progenies. One of my main hypothesis is that seed dispersal is more distance limited in defaunated forest fragments than in forest reserves
In this short video I talk about my undergraduate and master’s work with the E. edulis palm in the Atlantic Forest.