371b Bond Life Science Center
Pires studies the evolution of plants. He does this by comparing the genetic material of plants that are known to regularly duplicate their chromosomes. This process, known as whole genome duplication, can give rise to new plant types and traits. He creates the equivalent of a “family tree” for these plant species, which he then uses to discover how this duplication influenced their evolutions. Pires works with plants in the genus Brassica, which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and canola, and Asparagales, which includes onions, asparagus, irises and orchids. He recently discovered that chromosomes within canola can rearrange themselves in unexpected ways during meiosis, a stage during which cells divide to form pollen or eggs. In addition to shedding light on plant evolution, his research may be used to develop new or more valuable crops.