Maria Del Pilar Herrera Egoavil

About me

I did my bachelor's studies in Biological Sciences with a focus on Botany at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru and my master's in Evolution, Ecology and Systematics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Munich, Germany. I have used plants in my research projects to study topics such as their diversity in the Neotropics, their flower's anatomy and development or the accumulation of repetitive DNA in their chromosomes. However, I also have used fission yeast as a study organism to analyse reproductive isolation and variation of meiotic recombination in natural populations.

I am very interested in plant evolutionary genomics, especially in finding out their genomic signatures of adaptability and the evolution of plant sex chromosomes and mating systems. 

About my research project

For my PhD project, I will combine population and quantitative genetics approaches to contribute to the development of genomic selection in birch breeding.

First, I will focus on characterising the genetic variation and polymorphisms (SNPs, CNVs, etc.) by resequencing around 500 individuals from Betula pendula populations. Understanding their genetic variation will help to analyse the population structure of B. pendula on a local (Sweden populations) and global (Eurasia) scale.

The second step of my project will use the genomic data obtained in the first step to develop a 50,000 SNP genotyping array. This array will then be used to genotype a training set population for which phenotypic data will be available and assess the possibility of genomic selection in birch. The genotyping array will also allow the classification of markers.

The data will also be used to analyse the genetic architecture of critical life-history traits and carry out associations between genetic and environmental variables. Additionally, to prevent the accumulation of deleterious mutations and the effects of inbreeding depression, I will also characterise the variation of genetic load over the natural range of birch populations.

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