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Jeff J. Doyle

Professor

240 Emerson Hall
(607) 255-7972

My training is as a plant systematist, studying the evolutionary relationships of flowering plants. Beginning with my doctoral work I have been interested in genome duplication, and my work in this area involves comparative genomics of polyploid species. Most of this work involves the large and economically important legume family ("beans"), where projects include studies addressing the origin of nodulation (symbiotic nitrogen fixation) and the study of gene families involved in cell wall synthesis, aimed at developing alfalfa (a polyploid) as a biofuels crop, particularly soybean and its wild relatives. Soybean and, particularly, its wild relatives have been the focus of much work, developing the latter into a model system for studying natural allopolyploidy.

Research Focus

My research lies in the area of plant molecular systematics, molecular evolution, and comparative genomics. I am especially interested in the origin and evolution of polyploidy in plants, including such topics as the role of polyploidy in shaping gene expression and the impact of genome duplication on cell biology. Much of my research has focused on polyploid complexes in the genus Glycine, which includes the cultivated soybean (G. max). The genus is itself an ancient polyploid, and more recent cycles of allopolyploidy have occurred in the Australian perennial subgenus. The perennial Glycine species are of interest as a source of traits for improving soybean. Genomic studies are aimed at investigating the effect of both ancient and recent polyploidy on regions of the genome that harbor disease resistance genes (R-genes). Dissecting the genome origins of the neopolyploids has revealed at least nine different allopolyploid genome combinations involving around nine different diploid genomes. Primary molecular phylogenetic work on diploid species is addressing the possible hybrid origins of diploid species. We are studying the evolution of gene expression in fixed hybrid allopolyploid plants, and investigating the consequences of altered expression on morphology and physiology. The legume family as a whole has also been a focus of phylogenetic work. Knowledge of legume phylogeny is important for understanding the origin of nitrogen fixing symbioses ("nodulation"), which characterizes legumes but is not found in all of its subgroups, a distribution that is consistent with multiple gains of this complex trait. Genomic studies of nodulating and non-nodulating legumes and other plants have suggested that the distribution of nodulation may be due to massive losses of the trait, rather than many independent origins, a finding that has significance for engineering symbiotic nitrogen fixing in crop plants such as maize.

Teaching Focus

Molecular systematics and evolution

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Fellow (2014) Botanical Society of America

Selected Publications

Journal Publications