Episode 107: In plant genomics, what are polyploidy and subgenome dominance?

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Kevin Bird (Michigan State University) is a genomicist and evolutionary biologist, and, in this episode, we talk about genetic variation in plants, ancient hominins and modern humans!

Kevin studies a genetic phenomenon in plants known as 'polyploidy', which is when some plants have extra copies of genomes in each cell. What are some examples of polyploidy in the animal and plant kingdoms? What happens when you have two subgenomes within a genome, and how does subgenome dominance manifest itself as traits in the plant species or cultivars we recognize today? How is this knowledge useful for the agricultural industry? How can scientists carry out genomic selection using markers to breed plants and produce varied options in the food sector?

We also discuss the Human Genome Project, and the legacies that research left, fuelling recent interest in genetics among funding agencies and members of the public. Where does Kevin think there's room for improvement in how genomicists communicate findings about human diversity? What processes today and in the history of genomic research lead to current public understandings about 'race'?

You can find more information in the show notes under the episode on our website.

Kevin's website is on GitHub, his public blog posts are also on Arc Digital, and he himself can be contacted through Twitter.

You can find Michael on Twitter and Instagram too.

The Arch and Anth Podcast is on Twitter and Instagram, and it has a Facebook page.

If you liked this episode and you want to help support the show, please leave us a review on iTunes or visit the Patreon page for details on how to give a little each month to this public anthropology and archaeology project!

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