I use the popular vegetable crop garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) and its wild relatives to study how separate sexes and sex chromosomes evolve in plants.
There are around 215 total species of Asparagus, and at least 53 of them have evolved separate sexes, including garden asparagus.
My research aims to untangle how/when separate sexes and sex chromosomes originally evolved in the genus Asparagus.
I use our current understanding of species relationships within the genus Asparagus to study how sex chromosomes have changed across evolutionary time.
To do this, I analyze DNA sequences that are found on sex chromosomes and compare them between closely related species of Asparagus.
Findings from my research will help us better understand how sex chromosomes originally evolve and change overtime in plants!
Example of separate sexed flowers in wild species of Asparagus:
Photo of me collecting Asparagus oligoclonos for DNA sampling at JC Raulston Arboretum (NC State, North Carolina).
Flower images from: Kanno, Akira, and Jun Yokoyama. 2011. 'Asparagus.' in, Wild Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources (Springer). DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-20450-0_3