Welcome to the Lowry Lab!

The research of the Lowry lab is centered on identifying the genetic and physiological mechanisms of ecological adaptations, understanding how those adaptations contribute to the formation of new species, and developing approaches to translate our knowledge of adaptations into the improvement of crop species. To understand the physiological, developmental, and genetic mechanisms of adaptive divergence between plant populations, the Lowry lab is focused on research in three flagship systems for evolutionary genomics: Monkeyflowers (Mimulus), Common Bean (Phaseolus), and Panicum grasses. Large communities of collaborative scientists have established extensive genomic and molecular biology resources for these systems.

Lab News

November 2022: New paper by former postdoc Ian Willick out on cold acclimation and freezing tolerance in switchgrass.

September 2022: The monkeyflower research in the Lowry Lab was featured in new video.

September 2022: Dr. Neal Tilhou has joined the Lowry Lab as a new postdoc. Neal will be working to understand genetic diversity and lead breeding efforts to improve yield and overwinter survival in switchgrass. Welcome Neal!

August 2022: Postdoc Acer VanWallendael’s paper on the temporal, environmental, and host genetic influences on leaf fungal microbiomes in switchgrass was published in PLoS Biology. You can read a Primer on the study here.

July 2022: Postdoc Kyle Christie’s meta-analysis on reproductive isolating barriers in plants was published in Evolution.

June 2022: The Lowry Lab has been awarded a $772,572 National Science Foundation Grant to study the genetic, developmental, and physiological mechanisms of plant local adaptation to oceanic salt spray. More information on this award can be found here.

April 2022: Two Lowry Lab technicians, Linnea Fraser (former) and Thomas Zambiasi (current), will be starting graduate school at Indiana University in the Fall of 2022. Congratulations to both of you!!!!

April 2022: Our new study on the role of polyploidization driving niche breath evolution in switchgrass was published in PNAS.

March 2022: Postdocs Acer VanWallendael and Daniel Anstett were co-author on exciting large-scale study in Science.

October 2021: Dr. Nathan Emery was awarded the MSU Outstanding Plant Biology Postdoc Award. Congratulations Nate!!!!

September 2021: Congratulations to postdoc Dr. Ian Willick, who has accepted a positions as a Research Scientist of horticulture physiology at the Kentville Research and Development Centre (Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Kentville, Nova Scotia). Congratulations Ian!!! You will be missed.

August 2021: Welcome to new graduate students Andrew Bleich and Madison Plunkert.

July 2021: Dr. Lauren Stanley has received an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to identify the genetic networks underlying the switch between carotenoids and anthocyanins, which segregates within monkeyflower populations.

July 2021: Former graduate student, Damian Popovic, who is now a Ranger at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park recorded a radio episode on astrogeology. 

May 2021: U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin toured MSU plant science research facilities and met with Lowry to discuss the Plant Resilience Institute. Read the story here.

May 2021: The Lowry Lab participated in the recent extraction of the 141-year-old Beal Seed Experiment. You can read about our participation in this experiment in the NY Times(1), NY Times(2), and IFL Science or listen to the story about it on Tumble, Science VS , Shortwave, Top of Mind, and NPR.

May 2021: Lowry Lab undergraduate Thomas Zambiasi has been awarded the MSU Outstanding Senior in Plant Biology Award. Congratulations Thomas!!!

April 2021: Two new graduate students, Andrew Bleich and Madison Plunkert will be rotating and/or joining the Lowry lab in the Fall of 2022. Welcome to MSU Andrew and Madison!!!!

February 2021: Kathy Toll’s paper on the role of inbreeding depression in maintaining habitat segregation between two species of monkeyflowers has now been published in Evolution.

February 2021: A paper on the genomics of climate adaptation switchgrass was published in Nature. You can listen to Lowry talk about this work on the Genome Insider podcast. You can read more about this work in this News and Views.

January 2021: Ali Soltani’s paper on the genetic and physiological evolution of seed dormancy through domestication is out. You can read a summary of this work here.

January 2021: Dr. Leslie Kollar has arrived at MSU. Welcome Leslie!

October 2020: The Lowry Lab was part of a DOE Joint Genome Institute Community Sequencing Proposal that was funded to develop a pan-genome for monkeyflowers and sequence important species through the genus Mimulus.

September 2020: Matt Carey has joined the Lowry Lab as an incoming PhD students in the Department of Plant Biology. Welcome Matt!

August 2020: Our lab has received an official notification that our research on switchgrass latitudinal adaptations will be funded for another five-years!!!! The funding is part of a $12.8 million dollar DOE Systems Biology Research to Advance Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Development Grant led by the University of Texas.

July 2020: Dr. Leslie Kollar has received an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research on the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus, at MSU in the Lowry and Niederhuth labs.

July 2020: Postdoc Ali Soltani has been offered and accepted a Genomic Data Scientist job at Bayer Crop Science. Congratulations Ali!

June 2020: Postdoc Acer VanWallendael’s recent New Phytologist paper was highlighted by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center: Geographic adaptations impact switchgrass resistance to rust infections

March 2020: Our technician Darlene Brennan will be starting a PhD position at the University of Nebraska this coming fall. Big congratulations Darla!

March 2020: Matthew Carey will be joining the Lowry Lab in the Fall Semester of 2020 as an incoming PhD student. Welcome Matt! We are thrilled you will be joining us!

January 2020: Damian Popovic’s field study on understanding the ecological mechanisms of local adaptation between coastal and inland habitats of Mimulus guttatus has been published in a special issue of The American Journal of Botany.

Popovic D, Lowry DB. 2020. Contrasting environmental factors drive local adaptation at opposite ends of an environmental gradient in the yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus). American Journal of Botany. 107: 298-307.

January 2020: Dr. Kyle Christie came to visit the lab and presented his excellent research on the evolution of reproductive isolation in California Jewelflowers in the Plant Biology Departmental Seminar.

July 2019: Dr. Ian Willick has arrived in the lab! Ian will be working on the physiological and biochemical mechanisms of cold tolerance in switchgrass.

June 2019: After nearly a decade of hard work by numerous people, working together across a huge swath of the central United States, our large-scale study of the genetic architecture of local adaptation in switchgrass has finally been published this month in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Lowry DB, Lovell JT, Zhang L, Bonnette J, Fay PA, Mitchell RB, Lloyd Reilley J, Boe AR, Wu Y, Rouquette FM, Wynia RL, Weng X, Behrman KD, Healy A, Barry K, Lipzen A, Bauer D, Sharma A, Jenkins J, Schumtz J, Fritschi FB, Juenger TE. 2019. QTL x environment interactions underlie adaptive divergence in switchgrass across a large latitudinal gradient. PNAS.

June 2019: The Lowry Lab has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying locally adaptive trade-offs between growth, reproduction, and herbivore resistance in the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus. The research will be conducted in collaboration with Liza Holeski’s lab at Northern Arizona University. The first paper on this research was published in the journal Evolution:

Lowry DB, Popovic D, Brennan DJ, Holeski LM. 2019. Mechanisms of a locally adaptive shift in allocation among growth, reproduction, and herbivore resistance in Mimulus guttatus. Evolution. 73: 1168-1181.

May 2019: Dr. Kyle Christie has been awarded an NSF postdoc fellowship to join the Lowry Lab and study the impacts of climate change on local adaptation through resurrection experiments conducted from herbarium collections of Plantago patagonica.

March 2019: Postdoc Acer VanWallendael visited Capital Hill to talk with US Senator Gary Peter (MI) about funding for science as part of an American Institute of Biological Sciences program, with support from the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE).

February 2019: The lab published a paper in Annual Reviews of Plant Biology on using our knowledge of molecular pathways to predict trade-offs underlying local adaptation.

VanWallendael A, Soltani A, Emery NC, Peixoto MM, Olsen J, Lowry DB. 2019. A molecular view of plant local adaptation: Incorporating stress-response networks. Annual Reviews of Plant Biology. In press