Diane Lawrence (Post Doc)

My main research interest is how species interactions affect evolution. Often, experimental evolution studies consider the adaptation of a single species grown in isolation and it is less common to examine the adaptation of species within more diverse groups. We know, however, that interactions between species can alter the outcome of evolution - often in ways that could not be predicted from their evolution in isolation.

Diane Lawrence

In my research I am using six lineages of the marine algae Osterococcus tauri to investigate the effect evolving with a competitor has on adaptation. These lineages have a range of phenotypic plasticity allowing me to study how species interactions affect the evolution of plasticity. For example, from research that has already been carried out in the Collins, lab we know that phenotypic plasticity of ancestors can predict the degree to which lineages adapt to enhanced CO2, I will investigate whether this relationship is conserved when species face the additional selection pressure of interspecific competition. I will also ask whether interspecific interactions affect the evolution and maintenance of plasticity and whether adaptation to high CO2 in mixed cultures can be predicted from adaptation of component species in monoculture.

Apart from being really interesting, this research is also useful because we have very limited knowledge of how marine microbes will respond to climate change. O. tauri may be a particularly important component of marine ecosystems because is a widespread photosynthetic green algae which contributes greatly to carbon cycling and sits at the base of marine food webs, as such the way it responds to environmental changes is likely to have considerable consequences for future climate change and for the biota of the oceans.