Olson Lab :: Ecological Genomics


We study how genetics influences the distribution and abundance of organisms.  A primary theme of our research has been elucidating the influence and interplay among population structure, historical migration, and adaptation. We also have dabbled in questions regarding the genetic basis of speciation. We focus on plants because of their critical roles in ecosystems, their importance as sources of renewable food, fiber, and fuels, and their tractability for manipulation and study in natural systems.

Our current focus is understanding the ecological and genetic factors that have influenced the dynamic movement of sex determination regions and sex chromosome evolution in the Salicaceae (poplars and willows). I am presently searching for one postdoc and graduate students interested in getting involved with this research project. Please contact me at matt[dot]olson[at]ttu[dot]edu for more information. Advertisements for these positions can be found here: TTU_Postdoctoral_Associate_Position_sept2015.pdf and TTU_Graduate_Associate_Position_sept2015.pdf More information about the grant can be found here and here.


From here it’s possible


Much of my current research concerns adaptation and climate change and a portion of my study sites are located in Alaska, where I taught for 9 years. I moved to Texas 5 years ago. I and folks in my lab have worked on all sorts of ecological genetics questions from the effects of the pollination community on the evolution of sexual systems, to reconstructing historical distributions of trees, to estimating the adaptive potential of tree phenology to changing future climates. I use a variety of techniques to address the questions at hand, but lately am particularly interested in studying genome-wide  signals of adaptation and historical demography which necessitates that we do a lot of computer programming and analysis of whole genome data sets. I also love field studies and experiments, so I prefer to spend some of my time in the field. 

I also enjoy cultural diversity. I try to contribute when I can.

We have shown that balsam poplar genotypes from the south grow longer than those in the north in both a southern and a northern gardens. Genotypes from the north, however, grow longer when planted in the north than when planted in the south.