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ComplEvol SIGNED

Evolutionary origins of complex ecological adaptations

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "ComplEvol" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: S10 2TN

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙498˙275 €
 EC max contribution 1˙498˙275 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-06-01   to  2020-05-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    THE UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD UK (SHEFFIELD) coordinator 1˙498˙275.00


 Project objective

During evolution, organisms adapt to diverse environmental conditions by evolving new morphological and/or biochemical traits, some of which are of impressive complexity. This is for example the case of eyes, wings or complex biochemical pathways, which all involve multiple components. The evolution of such complex traits has always intrigued evolutionary biologists, including Charles Darwin, and is still only partially understood. How can natural selection on random mutations lead over time to novel complex ecological adaptations that allow organisms to thrive in diverse environments?

This question will be addressed here by studying a species complex that presents exceptional variation in a key ecological adaptation, namely C4 photosynthesis. This trait results from multiple anatomical and biochemical components that function together to increase plant productivity in warm and dry environments. Capitalizing on a species complex of grasses that includes C4 as well as the ancestral C3 photosynthetic types and multiple intermediate states, the ComplEvol project will combine methods from different fields to infer (i) the history of mutations that generated components for C4 photosynthesis during the dispersal into different ecological conditions, (ii) the factors controlling the spread of these mutations among populations, (iii) the effects of these mutations on the properties of the encoded C4 enzymes, (iv) the effects of different anatomical and biochemical C4 components on the performance of the plants (fundamental niche), and (v) the relationships between these components and the distribution of individuals in contrasted environments (realised niche).

The incorporation of these different dimensions of evolution and ecology will shed new lights on the processes that allow over time the emergence of major ecological novelties through the repeated action of natural selection on minor changes within populations.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2017 Inam Ullah, Jill K. Olofsson, Ashot Margaryan, Melissa Ilardo, Habib Ahmad, Martin Sikora, Anders J. Hansen, Muhammad Shahid Nadeem, Numan Fazal, Murad Ali, Anders Buchard, Brian E. Hemphill, Eske Willerslev, Morten E. Allentoft
High Y-chromosomal Differentiation Among Ethnic Groups of Dir and Swat Districts, Pakistan
published pages: 234-248, ISSN: 0003-4800, DOI: 10.1111/ahg.12204
Annals of Human Genetics 81/6 2020-02-27
2019 Jill K. Olofsson, Isabel Cantera, Céline Van de Paer, Cynthia Hong‐Wa, Loubab Zedane, Luke T. Dunning, Adriana Alberti, Pascal‐Antoine Christin, Guillaume Besnard
Phylogenomics using low‐depth whole genome sequencing: A case study with the olive tribe
published pages: 877-892, ISSN: 1755-098X, DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.13016
Molecular Ecology Resources 19/4 2019-11-12
2019 Luke T Dunning, Jose J Moreno-Villena, Marjorie R Lundgren, Jacqueline Dionora, Paolo Salazar, Claire Adams, Florence Nyirenda, Jill K Olofsson, Anthony Mapaura, Isla M Grundy, Canisius J Kayombo, Lucy A Dunning, Fabrice Kentatchime, Menaka Ariyarathne, Deepthi Yakandawala, Guillaume Besnard, W Paul Quick, Andrea Bräutigam, Colin P Osborne, Pascal-Antoine Christin
Key changes in gene expression identified for different stages of C4 evolution in Alloteropsis semialata
published pages: 3255-3268, ISSN: 0022-0957, DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erz149
Journal of Experimental Botany 70/12 2019-11-12
2019 Marjorie R. Lundgren, Luke T. Dunning, Jill K. Olofsson, Jose J. Moreno-Villena, Jacques W. Bouvier, Tammy L. Sage, Roxana Khoshravesh, Stefanie Sultmanis, Matt Stata, Brad S. Ripley, Maria S. Vorontsova, Guillaume Besnard, Claire Adams, Nicholas Cuff, Anthony Mapaura, Matheus E. Bianconi, Christine M. Long, Pascal-Antoine Christin, Colin P. Osborne
C 4 anatomy can evolve via a single developmental change
published pages: 302-312, ISSN: 1461-023X, DOI: 10.1111/ele.13191
Ecology Letters 22/2 2019-11-12
2018 Daniel P. Wood, Jill K. Olofsson, Scott W. McKenzie, Luke T. Dunning
Contrasting phylogeographic structures between freshwater lycopods and angiosperms in the British Isles
published pages: 476-486, ISSN: 2381-8107, DOI: 10.1080/23818107.2018.1505545
Botany Letters 165/3-4 2019-11-12
2017 Inam Ullah, Jill K. Olofsson, Ashot Margaryan, Melissa Ilardo, Habib Ahmad, Martin Sikora, Anders J. Hansen, Muhammad Shahid Nadeem, Numan Fazal, Murad Ali, Anders Buchard, Brian E. Hemphill, Eske Willerslev, Morten E. Allentoft
High Y-chromosomal Differentiation Among Ethnic Groups of Dir and Swat Districts, Pakistan
published pages: 234-248, ISSN: 0003-4800, DOI: 10.1111/ahg.12204
Annals of Human Genetics 81/6 2019-11-12
2019 Kimberley J. Simpson, Jill K. Olofsson, Brad S. Ripley, Colin P. Osborne
Frequent fires prime plant developmental responses to burning
published pages: 20191315, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1315
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286/1909 2019-11-12
2019 Luke T. Dunning, Jill K. Olofsson, Christian Parisod, Rimjhim Roy Choudhury, Jose J. Moreno-Villena, Yang Yang, Jacqueline Dionora, W. Paul Quick, Minkyu Park, Jeffrey L. Bennetzen, Guillaume Besnard, Patrik Nosil, Colin P. Osborne, Pascal-Antoine Christin
Lateral transfers of large DNA fragments spread functional genes among grasses
published pages: 4416-4425, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1810031116
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116/10 2019-11-12
2016 Marjorie R. Lundgren, Pascal-Antoine Christin, Emmanuel Gonzalez Escobar, Brad S. Ripley, Guillaume Besnard, Christine M. Long, Paul W. Hattersley, Roger P. Ellis, Richard C. Leegood, Colin P. Osborne
Evolutionary implications of C 3 -C 4 intermediates in the grass Alloteropsis semialata
published pages: 1874-1885, ISSN: 0140-7791, DOI: 10.1111/pce.12665
Plant, Cell & Environment 39/9 2019-05-29
2017 Luke T. Dunning, Anne-Lise Liabot, Jill K. Olofsson, Emma K. Smith, Maria S. Vorontsova, Guillaume Besnard, Kimberley J. Simpson, Marjorie R. Lundgren, Eda Addicott, Rachael V. Gallagher, Yingying Chu, R. Toby Pennington, Pascal-Antoine Christin, Caroline E. R. Lehmann
The recent and rapid spread of Themeda triandra
published pages: 327-337, ISSN: 2381-8107, DOI: 10.1080/23818107.2017.1391120
Botany Letters 164/4 2019-05-29
2017 Luke T. Dunning, Marjorie R. Lundgren, Jose J. Moreno-Villena, Mary Namaganda, Erika J. Edwards, Patrik Nosil, Colin P. Osborne, Pascal-Antoine Christin
Introgression and repeated co-option facilitated the recurrent emergence of C 4 photosynthesis among close relatives
published pages: 1541-1555, ISSN: 0014-3820, DOI: 10.1111/evo.13250
Evolution 71/6 2019-05-29
2016 Jill K. Olofsson, Matheus Bianconi, Guillaume Besnard, Luke T. Dunning, Marjorie R. Lundgren, Helene Holota, Maria S. Vorontsova, Oriane Hidalgo, Ilia J. Leitch, Patrik Nosil, Colin P. Osborne, Pascal-Antoine Christin
Genome biogeography reveals the intraspecific spread of adaptive mutations for a complex trait
published pages: 6107-6123, ISSN: 0962-1083, DOI: 10.1111/mec.13914
Molecular Ecology 25/24 2019-05-29
2016 Chandra Bellasio, Marjorie R. Lundgren
Anatomical constraints to C 4 evolution: light harvesting capacity in the bundle sheath
published pages: 485-496, ISSN: 0028-646X, DOI: 10.1111/nph.14063
New Phytologist 212/2 2019-05-29
2017 Marjorie R. Lundgren, Pascal-Antoine Christin
Despite phylogenetic effects, C 3 –C 4 lineages bridge the ecological gap to C 4 photosynthesis
published pages: 241-254, ISSN: 0022-0957, DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw451
Journal of Experimental Botany 68/2 2019-05-29

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