Department of Biology
Dr. Allison Miller, - Ph.D. Washington University
Associate Professor - Department of Biology
Research Associate - Missouri Botanical Garden
Phone: (314) 977-7653
Fax: (314) 977-3658
Mail: Department of Biology, St. Louis University, 3507 Laclede Ave. St. Louis, MO 63103-2010
Courses: Principles of Biology II (BIOL 106), Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 301), Biology of Plants and Fungi (BIOL 326), Applied Population Genetics (BIOL 458/558), Graduate Seminar (BIOL 584)
Lab Web Page: http://millerlabatslu.weebly.com
Research Interests:Research in the Miller Lab focuses on plant population genetics and evolutionary genomics. We are particularly interested in the genetic basis of evolution in economically and ecologically important plant species. Current projects focus on perennial crops and their wild relatives including grape (Vitis spp.), pecan (Carya spp.), and horseradish (Armoracia spp.), as well as the dominant tall grass prairie species big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), and one of the most aggressive invaders in North America, kudzu (Pueraria montana). The long-term goals of our research are 1) to advance basic understanding of evolutionary processes in plants and 2) to apply this knowledge to crop improvement and the conservation of plant genetic resources.
Crop evolution and conservation: In a changing climate, global strategies for crop improvement and conservation require comprehensive understanding of both natural and human-mediated evolutionary processes impacting crop genetic resources. To this end, we integrate evolutionary and population genetics, genomics, field-, orchard-, and herbarium-collected morphological and phenological data, ethnobotany, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) databases. Concerns about sustainable agriculture have refocused attention on perennial crops, which offer promising options for food production while decreasing environmental impacts. Historically, long-lived species were considered by some as intractable systems for studying evolution due to lengthy generation times and low rates of self-fertilization. However, emerging technologies (e.g., RNA-seq, high-throughput genotyping) and analytical techniques (e.g., association mapping) are facilitating exciting evolutionary analyses in perennials. Ongoing work with perennial crops and their wild relatives integrates population genetics and genome-scale approaches to investigate three major questions: 1) How does the domestication process shape genetic variation? 2) What is the genomic basis of adaptation to climate in long-lived species? 3) What genetic mechanisms underlie sterility in clonally propagated perennials?
Research Opportunities: I welcome both undergraduate and graduate students with interests in plant evolutionary biology and population genetics. Opportunties exist for students to conduct fieldwork, extract DNA, generate molecular genetic data, and learn how to analyze these data. In addition, there are opportunities to conduct research at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBot), one of the top three research botanical gardens in the world, which is located less than 10 minutes from SLU. Please contact Dr. Miller for more information.
Miller, A. J. 2012. Out of the cold- how big and how old? Genetic fingerprinting reveals how long-lived individuals withstand climatic oscillations in the arctic-alpine. Molecular Ecology 21(5): 1036-7.
Miller, A.J. 2011. Wealth of Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources. Spondias purpurea and its sympatric wild relatives in Mesoamerica. Chittaranjan Kole, Editor. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.
Miller, A.J. and B.L. Gross. 2011. Forest to Field: Perennial fruit crop domestication. Special Invited Paper for American Journal of Botany 98(9): 1389-1414.
Grauke, L.J., M. A. Mendoza-Herrera, A.J. Miller, and B. W. Wood. 2011. Geographic patterns of genetic variation in native pecan populations (Carya illinoinensis). Tree Genetics and Genomes 7:917-932.
Pell, S., J.D. Mitchell, A.J. Miller and Tatyana A. Lobova. 2011. Anacardiaceae. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. K. Kubitzki, ed. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.
Gunn, B.F., M. Aradhya, J. Salick, A. Miller, Y. Yongping, L. Lin, and H. Xian. 2010. Genetic variation in walnuts (Juglans sigillata Dode and J. regia L., Juglandaceae): species distinctions, human impacts, and agrobiodiversity conservation in Yunnan, China. American Journal of Botany 97(4): 660-671.
Sampliner, D.S*. and A.J. Miller. 2009. Ethnobotany of horseradish: reproductive biology and local uses of Armoracia species (Brassicaceae) in their native ranges. Economic Botany 63(3): 303-313.
Miller, A.J. 2008. Characterization of the Spondias purpurea lineage in Mesoamerica based on nuclear and chloroplast sequence data. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 135(4): 463-474.
Miller, A.J. Crop Plants: Evolution. 2007. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley and Sons.
Yi, T., A.J. Miller, and J. Wen. 2007. The phylogeny of Rhus (Ancardiaceae) based on sequences of nuclear NIA-i3 intron and chloroplast trnC-D suggests reticulate evolution. Systematic Botany 32(2): 379-391.
Miller, A.J. and J.H. Knouft. 2006. GIS-based characterization of the wild and cultivated niches of a Mesoamerican fruit tree, Spondias purpurea (Anacardiaceae). American Journal of Botany 93(12): 1757-1767.
Miller, A.J. and B.A. Schaal. 2006. Domestication and the distribution of genetic variation in wild and cultivated populations of the Mesoamerican fruit tree Spondias purpurea L. (Anacardiaceae). Molecular Ecology 15: 1467-1480.
Miller, A.J. and B.A. Schaal. 2005. Domestication of a Mesoamerican cultivated fruit tree. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 102 (36): 12801-12806.
Yi, T., A. J. Miller and J. Wen. 2004. Phylogenetic and biogeographic diversification of Rhus (Anacardiaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33 (3): 861-879.