David Lowry

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The University of Texas at Austin: USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2012

Duke University: PhD, 2004-2010

The University of California, Berkeley: BS, 1997-2001

Research Interests

Switchgrass in its native riparian habitat in central Texas
Field experiment with Mimulus guttatus

The genetics of adaptation and speciation

Adaptation is the most fundamental way that the environment can change the phenotypes of organisms. Adaptations can also lead to the formation of reproductive isolating barriers, which are the building blocks of new species. I am very interested in understanding the genetic underpinnings of reproductive isolation at various stages in the speciation process.

Understanding adaptation is also crucial to predicting how organisms will respond to future global change and will help inform management decisions as well as guide future agricultural breeding.

Landscape evolutionary genomics

One of the core goals of my research program is to understand how the natural landscape molds the genomes of organisms through adaptation. To that end, I am using a combination of genetic mapping and genome sequencing approaches to identify genes involved with adaptation to the heterogeneity of the natural landscape. During my dissertation, I focused on how adaptive alleles in Mimulus guttatus are spread across the landscape and what phenotypic effects they have in different environments across western North America. Currently, I am developing Panicum grasses as a model system to understand adaptation along a longitudinal soil moisture cline across Southwestern United States and a latitudinal temperature cline across the Great Plains. Our lab recently received funding from the Department of Energy to develop Panicum hallii as a model system for local adaptation and bioenergy research.

Phenotypic diversity of Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum
Field experiment with Panicum hallii

Using evolutionary biology to improve bioenergy crops

Civilization is built on a foundation of domesticated grasses. Without those grasses (corn, wheat, rice, oats, barley, sorghum) there would be no ballet and human beings would never of landed on the moon. Plant breeders have quietly worked in the shadows to increase the yield of crops and in turn maintain our modern world.

Now, there may actually be potential to domesticate a new set of grass species to use to help combat the growing energy problem. My research is focused understanding the factors involved in local adaptation in the bioenergy crop switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Loci involved in local adaptation are likely to be of high value to crop breeders interested in improving drought, heat, cold, herbivore, and disease tolerance.


Cover photo for PLoS Biology

Lowry D. B., K. D. Behrman, P. Grabowski, G. P. Morris, J. R. Kiniry, T. E. Juenger. Local and climatic adaptations across the Panicum virgatum species complex. In review

Lowry, D. B., C. T. Purmal, T. E. Juenger. A population genetic transect of Panicum hallii (Poaceae). In review

Sexton J. P., M. B. Hufford, A. Bateman, D. B. Lowry, H. Meimberg, S. Y. Strauss, K. J. Rice. Mechanisms generating species range limits: Inference from patterns of gene flow and abundance across a species' range. In review

Wright, K. M., D. Lloyd, D. B. Lowry, M. R. Macnair, J. H. Willis. Indirect evolution of hybrid lethality due to linkage with selected locus in Mimulus guttatus. PLoS Biology. In revison

Lowry D. B., R. Hopkins. (2012) “Speciation and Natural Selection.” Invited book chapter in The Princeton Guide to Evolution, edited by Jonathan Losos. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. In press

Lowry D. B. (2012) Local adaptation in The model plant. New Phytologist. 194: 888-890.

Lowry D. B. (2012) Ecotypes and the controversy over stages in the formation of new species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 106: 241-257.

Lowry, D. B., C. T. Purmal, E. Meyer, T. E. Juenger. (2012) Microsatellite markers for the native Texas perennial grass,  Panicum hallii (Poaceae). American Journal of Botany Primer Notes & Protocols. 99: e114-e116

Lowry, D. B., C. S. Sheng, Z. Zhu, T. E. Juenger, B. Lahner, D. E. Salt, J. H. Willis. (2012) Mapping of ionomic traits in Mimulus guttatus reveals Mo and Cd QTLs that colocalize with MOT1 homologues. PLoS One 7: e30730.

Lowry D. B., C. S. Sheng,, J. R. Lasky, J.H. Willis. (2012) Five anthocyanin polymorphisms are associated with an R2R3-MYB cluster in Mimulus guttatus. American Journal of Botany 99:82-91

Lowry, D.B., J. H. Willis. (2010) A widespread chromosomal inversion polymorphism contributes to a major life-history transition, local adaptation, and reproductive isolation. PLoS Biology 8: e1000500

Hall M. C., D. B. Lowry, J. H. Willis. (2010). Hall M. C., D. B. Lowry, J. H. Willis. (2010) Is local adaptation in Mimulus guttatus caused by trade-offs at individual loci? Molecular Ecology. 19: 2739-2753

Lowry, D. B. (2010) Landscape evolutionary genomics. Biology Letters. 6: 502-504

Evolution cover.jpg

Wu, C. A., D. B. Lowry, L. I. Nutter, J. H. Willis. (2010) Natural variation for drought response in the Mimulus guttatus species complex. Oecologia 162: 23-33

Lowry, D. B., M. C. Hall, D. E. Salt, J. H. Willis. (2009). Genetic and physiological basis of adaptive salt tolerance divergence between coastal and inland Mimulus guttatus. New Phytologist 183: 776-788

Lowry, D. B., J. L. Modliszewski, K. M. Wright, C. A. Wu, J. H. Willis. (2008). The strength and genetic basis of reproductive isolating barriers in flowering plants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 3009-3021

Lowry, D. B., R. C. Rockwood, J. H. Willis. (2008). Ecological reproductive isolation of coast and inland races of Mimulus guttatus. Evolution 62: 2196-2214

Wu, C. A., D. B. Lowry, A. M. Cooley, K. M. Wright, Y. W. Lee, and J. H. Willis. (2008). Mimulus is an emerging model system for the integration of ecological and genomic studies. Heredity 100: 220-230.

Important Things

  • Contact Info: You can contact me at davidbryantlowry@gmail.com.