B.Sc., University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Biology), 2001; Ph.D., University of British Columbia (Forestry), 2009
Interest Areas: Climatic adaptation in widely distributed tree species, transcriptional responses to abiotic stress, genotype-phenotype association studies, conservation genetics, genome-enabled breeding, adaptation of tree populations to climate change, landscape genomics.
- FOR 5984: Plant Population Genomics
- FOR/FiW 4984 - Genetics of Natural and Managed Populations
- Forestry 2414 - Field Experiences in Forest Resources (Team taught)
- Forest tree populations are well adapted to their local environments at present, but anthropogenic climate change is substantially altering adaptive landscapes, particularly in temperate and boreal regions. In the absence of adaptation to rapid changes in climatic, tree populations will be forced to either migrate or be extirpated. As it is unlikely that migration rates will be sufficient to realize the range shifts predicted by climate-based species distribution models, the importance of adaptive evolution cannot be underestimated. In order to predict the potential for adaptation in the context of climate change, we must first have an understanding of the genomic underpinnings of the relevant traits.
- The overarching goal of my research is to elucidate the genetic determinants of complex adaptive traits using genotype-phenotype association studies and landscape genomics. To do this we employ 'next gen' sequencing of large, diverse tree populations, which are grown in common environments and measured for a variety of adaptive traits, including timing of growth and dormancy transitions, tolerance to temperature extremes and drought hardiness. We are currently applying this approach to the model tree black cottonwood (aka 'poplar'), as well as several economically and ecologically important conifers such as spruce and pine. A better understanding of the genomic underpinnings of complex adaptive traits facilitates predictions of carbon sequestration in future forests, enhances the adaptive potential of local populations through conservation of ecologically-relevant genetic variation, and facilitates sustainable production of wood biomass through genome-enabled breeding. More generally, these studies begin to provide answers to long-standing questions in evolutionary ecology about the genetic architecture of adaptation.
- NSF Plant Genome Research Program – “CAREER: Integrating whole-genome association mapping and landscape genomics to understand climatic adaptation in Populus” (Principal Investigator)
- USDA NIFA Climate Change Coordinated Agriculture Project ¬– “Integrating Research, Education, and Extension for enhancing southern pine climate change mitigation and adaptation” (Co-Principal Investigator)
- Genome Canada – “AdapTree: Assessing the adaptive portfolio of reforestation stocks for future climates” (Co-Principal Investigator)
- Holliday JA, Suren H, Aitken SN. (2011) Divergent selection and heterogeneous migration rates across the range of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (In press).
- Dauwe R, Holliday JA, Aitken SN, Mansfield S. (2011) Metabolic dynamics during autumn cold acclimation within and among phenotypically divergent populations of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). New Phytologist (In press).
- Holliday JA, Yuen M, Ritland K, Aitken SN (2010) Postglacial history of a widespread conifer produces inverse clines in selective neutrality tests. Molecular Ecology. 19: 3857-3864.
- Holliday JA, Ritland K, Aitken SN. (2010) Widespread, ecologically relevant genetic markers developed from association mapping of climate-related traits in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). New Phytologist. 188: 501-514.
- Holliday, JA. (2009) Genomics of cold hardiness in forest trees. In Plant Cold Hardiness: From the Laboratory to the Field. Tanino, K. and Gusta L., eds. CABI. Oxfordshire.
- Holliday JA, Ralph SG, White R, Bohlmann J, Aitken SN. (2008) Global monitoring of autumn gene expression within and among phenotypically divergent populations of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). New Phytologist. 178(1): 103-22.
- Aitken SN, Yeaman S, Holliday JA, Wang T, Curtis-McLane S. (2008) Adaptation, migration or extirpation: Climate change outcomes for tree populations. Evolutionary Applications. 1(1): 95-111.