Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1137
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
DBBS graduate programs Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology Program
Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program
My research focuses on the genetic basis of evolution in plants: how is the genetic variation that we find within a species shaped by natural selection, population history, and other evolutionary forces? One way that I look at this question is by using crop domestication as a model for rapid evolutionary change. The wealth of genetic and genomic information available for crops makes them useful for studying the molecular evolution of genes in response to selection and other forces. In my lab we also study the evolutionary genetics of wild plant species. Topics of interest include the genetic basis of adaptive variation, the forces affecting genome-wide patterns of linkage disequilibrium, and phylogeography.
Photo caption: Most rice varieties contain the starch amylose, which stains black with iodine (left), while glutinous rice (right) lacks this starch. A single nucleotide mutation at the Waxy gene during the domestication of rice has led to the formation of the glutinous phenotype. This mutation arose initially in Southeast Asia, where glutinous rice remains an important staple food.
Vigueira, C.C., L.L. Small, and K.M. Olsen (2016). Long-term balancing selection at the Phosphorus Starvation Tolerance 1 (PSTOL1) locus in wild, domesticated, and weedy rice (Oryza). BMC Plant Biology 16:101.
Hokanson, K.E., N.C. Ellstrand, A.G.O. Nixon, H.P. Kulembeka, K.M. Olsen, and A. Raybould (2016). Risk assessment of gene flow from genetically engineered virus resistant cassava to wild relatives in Africa: An expert panel report. Transgenic Research 25: 71-81.
Li, L.F. and K.M. Olsen (2016). To have and to hold: selection for seed and fruit retention during crop domestication. Current Topics in Developmental Biology 119: 63-109.
Liu, Y., Y. Jia, D.R. Gealy, D.M. Goad, A.L. Caicedo, and K.M. Olsen (2016). Marker development for rice blast resistance gene Pi66(t) and application in the USDA rice mini-core collection. Crop Science, 56: 1001-1008.
Cervantes-Alcayde, M.A., M.E. Olson, K.M. Olsen, and L.E. Eguiarte (2015). Apparent similarity, underlying homoplasy: morphology and molecular phylogeny of the North American clade of Manihot (Euphorbiaceae). American Journal of Botany 102: 520-32.
Li, L.F., B. Liu, K.M. Olsen, and J.F. Wendel (2015). Multiple rounds of ancient and recent hybridizations have occurred within the Aegilops–Triticum complex. New Phytologist 208: 11-12.
Liu, Y., X. Qi, D.R. Gealy, K.M. Olsen, A.L. Caicedo, and Y. Jia (2015). QTL analysis for resistance to blast disease in US weedy rice. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 28: 834-844.
Li, L.F., B. Liu, K.M. Olsen, and J.F. Wendel (2015). A reevaluation of the homoploid hybrid origin of Aegilops tauschii, the donor of the wheat D-subgenome. New Phytologist 208: 4-8.
Qi, X.-S., Y. Liu, C.C. Vigueira, N.D. Young, A.L. Caicedo, Y. Jia, D.R. Gealy, and K.M. Olsen (2015). More than one way to evolve a weed: Parallel evolution of U.S. weedy rice through independent genetic mechanisms. Molecular Ecology 24: 3329–3344.
Olsen, K.M., N.J. Kooyers, and L.L. Small (2013). Recurrent gene deletions and the evolution of adaptive cyanogenesis polymorphisms in white clover (Trifolium repens L.). Molecular Ecology 22: 724-738.
Vigueira, C.C., K.M. Olsen, and A.L. Caicedo. (2013). The red queen in the corn: agricultural weeds as models of rapid adaptive evolution. Heredity 110: 303-311.
Trejo, L., P. Feria, K.M. Olsen, L.E. Eguiarte, B. Arroyo, J.A. Gruhn, and M.E. Olson (2012). Poinsettia's wild ancestor in the Mexican dry tropics: historical, genetic, and environmental evidence. American Journal of Botany 99: 1146-1157.
Olsen, K.M. (2012). One gene's shattering effects. Nature Genetics 44: 616-617.
Kooyers, NJ, and KM Olsen (2012). Rapid evolution of an adaptive cyanogenesis cline in introduced North American white clover (Trifolium repens L.). Molecular Ecology, in press.
Gunn, BF, L Baudouin, and KM Olsen (2011). Independent origins of cultivated coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in the Old World Tropics. PLoS ONE 6: e21143.
Yu, G, KM Olsen, and BA Schaal (2011). Association between nonsynonymous mutations of Starch Synthase IIa and starch quality in rice (Oryza sativa). New Phytologist 189: 593–601.
Lee, S, Y Jia, DR Gealy, M Jia, KM Olsen, and AL Caicedo (2011). Molecular Evolution of the Rice Blast Resistance Gene Pi-ta in Invasive Weedy Rice in the USA. PLoS ONE 6: e26260.