In the context of global environmental change, one of the main challenges in evolutionary ecology is to determine the type and structure of genetic and epigenetic variation underlying phenotypic natural variation to assess the potential and dynamics of an adaptive response to natural selection and / or changes resulting from anthropogenic environment. A potential lack of response from species to selection due to global changes (like global warming) would cause an erosion of biodiversity, disrupting ecosystems sustainably. This is especially important for plants species whose dispersion is on average limited in comparison to pathogens and animals.
We have to keep in mind that the adaptive potential response from a species to global change will not only depend on its direct interactions with the abiotic environment, but also on the environmental effects on its biotic interactions (pathogenic interactions, intra- and inter-specific competition…). However, our knowledge on adaptive dynamics of organism – organism interacting systems, and more precisely of co-evolution between two interacting species, remains surprisingly very limited. This is particularly relevant when studying the recruitment of the mutations in both biotic partners conferring the phenotypic variant likely to be retained by the natural selection. Because the molecular landscape of organism-organisms interactions (host-pathogen interactions, plant-plant interactions) can only be achieved by accounting for their genetic specificities, characterizing the molecular basis underlying host-pathogen specificity and plant-plant specificity will considerably increase our understanding of disease emergence and evolution of plant communities, respectively.
The main objective of our group is to establish a link between molecular biology and evolutionary ecology in order to predict the evolutionary trajectories of plant and pathogen communities face to global change, by identifying the genetic basis underlying coevolution in plant-pathogen and plant-plant interacting systems. The ever-decreasing cost of sequencing provides an exciting time to map the genetic bases of complex traits in any species and put them in the context of ecology and adaptation.