The Renner Lab explores evolutionary patterns and processes that drive functional diversification. We use plants and insects as models to study adaptation and current projects examine the underlying genetics and evolution of chemical and structural defense mechanisms.
We seek to understand how organisms acquire novel phenotypes through co-option of existing genes, tissues, and organs. Specifically, we investigate the role, regulation, and diversity of chemical defense genes, and examine the evolution of multi-step enzyme-catalyzed pathways that form defensive compounds in specialized tissues and organs.
Our research combines experimental biology with whole genome sequencing, transcriptomics, phylogenetics, biochemistry, and morphology.