Lecture: An eye for eyebrights: using genetic data to understand hybridisation and parasitism in British Euphrasia


Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh


Dr Alex Twyford (University of Edinburgh)


Thursday, 20 April, 2017 - 18:00

Eyebrights (Euphrasia) are a fascinating group of parasitic plants that show remarkable diversity in their ecology, mating system, and ploidy, yet remain understudied due to their taxonomic complexity. Here, I give insights into the nature of species differences in Euphrasia, by presenting results from a common garden study, and also large-scale genomic sequencing of UK-wide populations. I show that while some taxa retain their morphological distinctiveness, others show dramatic morphological changes when grown with different hosts, and this phenotypic plasticity blurs species boundaries. Genomic data in part clarify taxonomic boundaries, though little evidence exists for localised species being clearly distinguishable genetic units.

Alex Twyford is an evolutionary geneticist interested in the ecology and evolution of plants. He did his PhD at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on speciation in Begonia, before postdoctoral research on Mimulus at Syracuse University. He is now a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and a Research Associate at the RBGE, working on parasitic Euphrasia.

The lecture will commence at 18:00 h. Tea available from 17:30.


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