Recognizing Plant Cell first authors: Alexandre Marand

Alexandre Marand, first author of Historical meiotic crossover hotspots fueled patterns of evolutionary divergence in rice

Current Position: Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, USA

Education: PhD, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Non-scientific interests: Windsurfing, music, and outdoor activities.

Brief bio: I was afforded a tremendous amount of scientific independence throughout my doctoral dissertation in the Jiang lab at UW-Madison. The focus of my initial project aimed to characterize the fine-scale genetic architecture of yield in diploid potatoes. At the time, population genotyping via skim sequencing – although in its infancy – was becoming recognized for its power in studies of quantitative trait loci. As a junior PhD student armed with sequencing data from a segregating heterotic population and an insatiable appetite for literature, I realized that the potential of these data sets was not limited to linkage mapping; they could reveal meiotic crossover breakpoints at high-resolution. Encouraged by the work of geneticists studying meiosis in humans, I became fascinated by the molecular framework governing recombination in plants. My interest in recombination – initially geared towards elucidating the chromatin and sequence determinants of meiotic crossovers – began to take on a more theoretical and evolutionary perspective, leading to the question of how recombination may influence patterns of divergence in closely related species. Now as a postdoc, I am focused on elucidating how variation in cis-regulatory elements, chromatin structure and patterns of transcription encourage phenotypic evolution. I envision my future research program will bridge these past and current interests, facilitating a more basic understanding of the molecular and evolutionary implications provided by recombination.