Daniel works on the application of bioinformatics to study how regulatory small RNAs are involved in the generation of novel phenotypic variation in the garden snapdragon Antirrhinum majus, and its wild relatives.
Snapdragons exhibit a wonderful diversity of flower colour phenotypes, using bright pigments and striking patterns to signpost themselves for the large bees that serve as their pollinators. Attracting bees to pollinate is essential for sexual reproduction, making the preservation of distinctive colour patterns an essential trait for these plants to persevere in the wild.
Recent work by the Coen lab has revealed a novel mechanism by which regulatory small RNAs, arising from the inverted duplication of a pigment biosynthesis gene, are involved in the control of colour patterns in wild snapdragons.
Through analysis of genome sequence data from a range of wild snapdragons, this project aims to generate insights into the origin, evolutionary history, and broad phenotypic significance of small-RNA-mediated gene regulation in a range of wild species of snapdragons of varied morphology and habitat.