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Ecological Genetics


 Applied Ecological Genetics


Taking measurements of fish This is a focal area within which the theoretical and applied aspects of genetics are used to address questions in plant and animal ecology. The field of Applied Ecological Genetics is interdisciplinary in nature and exists at the interface of the disciplines of ecology and genetics, with an emphasis on the use of molecular tools and theoretical concepts to address applied problems in the ecological sciences, including those pertaining to the conservation, management, and genetic improvement of species.

Research conducted by the AEG group is vital to our advancement of science on a number of fronts, including:

  1. understanding the distribution of genes in space, and how those genes are dispersed;
  2. elucidating and conserving functional components of biodiversity
  3. deciphering genetic attributes that underlie mate choice and reproductive success
  4. development of strategies for recovering and maintaining threatened and endangered species
  5. developing genetically-modified plants that are physiologically adapted to predicted biotic and abiotic challenges associated with climate change
  6. enhanced management of wild species inhabiting increasingly human-dominated landscapes
  7. basic research on evolutionary mechanisms underlying the processes of species adaptation to environmental change


The goals of the AEG Area of Excellence are to increase participation in undergraduate research and to publish a book that highlights how molecular genetics can prove enlightening with regard to  the conservation and management of our natural resources, be they forests, fish, or wildlife.  The book, entitled "Molecular insights into natural resource conservation and management ", was edited by Drs. DeWoody, Bickham, Michler, Nichols, Rhodes, and Woeste and published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press.  Many contributors to the book met 6-8 October 2008 at Purdue University to finalize their chapters and discuss the state of the field.


The fields of genetics and genomics are growing by leaps and bounds. In particular, new technologies now allow investigators to use high-throughput tools to generate large molecular datasets on non-model organisms. These genetic and genomic datasets can complement ecological datasets, leading to new insights in many fields. For example, conservation biology, plant propagation, and wildlife management have all been strongly influenced by genetic approached over the last decade and this trend shows no sign of abating. The EG faculty in Purdue's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources are using molecular approaches to better manage our natural resources and to better understand natural ecological and evolutionary processes that influence the distribution and abundance of animal and plant species.


Aquatic animal nutrition, physiology, biochemistry
Population genetics, molecular ecology and evolution
Plant physiology and biochemistry
Genetic basis of the phenotypic diversity observed within and among populations of fishes
Ecotoxicology, development and application of molecular biomarkers of exposure and effects to environmental contaminants in vertebrate and invertebrate animal models
Ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles, education and outreach, genetics
Hardwood tree genetics, forest tree breeding & crop improvement, dispersal & gene flow in walnut and cherry


Book published after associated meeting, October 6-8, 2008

Our Publications in Applied Ecological Genetics