Professor and Dean of Life Sciences
office: Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4139
lab: Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4141
EE BIOL 194B - Research Group or Internship Seminars: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
EE BIOL 250 - Professional Skills for Biological Research
EE BIOL 261 - Molecular Ecology of Plant Populations
My research examines evolutionary and ecological processes that affect the genetic composition of natural populations of trees and how that existing genetic variation influences the ability of populations to respond to environmental change.
My current focus employs genomic tools to understand the geographical patterns of adaptive genetic variation in California oak populations by studying environmental gradients of SNPs in candidate genes. This work has direct application for concerns about the ability of tree populations to respond to climate change.
A second area of interest is the study of pollen and seed movement at a landscape scale. Using molecular markers and novel statistical approaches, we study contemporary gene movement through pollen and seeds to understand how these processes shape the genetic composition of tree populations and their long-term evolutionary potential.
A third research interest is phylogeography, which is the study of historical gene flow by analyzing geographic patterns of genetic markers such as gene sequence data or short repeat sequence makers. We have used this approach to two widespread western North America taxa?the epiphytic lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, and a California endemic oak, Quercus lobata--to understand why the California floristic province is an area of such high biological diversity.
In all these topics, my research integrates genetic patterns across scales that range from a single nucleotide base in a DNA sequence of plant to the landscape to the species' range. This work addresses fundamental questions about the evolutionary ecology of tree species and utilizes that information to inform policies about reserve networks that will optimize their survival in constantly changing landscapes and rapidly changing environment.
Kim B, X Wei, ST Fitz-Gibbon, KE Lohmueller, J Ortego, PF Gugger, VL Sork, "RADseq data reveal ancient, but not pervasive, introgression among Californian tree and scrub oak species (Quercus: Fagaceae)", Molecular Ecology, - (2018) .
Martins, K. PF Gugger, J Llanderal-Mendoza, A Gonzalez-Rodriguez, ST Fitz-Gibbon, J-L Zhao, K Oyama, VL Sork, "Landscape genomics provides evidence of climate-associated adaptive genetic variation in Mexican populations of Quercus rugosa", Evolutionary Applications, - (2018) .
Zhao, J-L, S Werth, M Ikegami, PF Gugger, VL Sork, "Historical and future climate responses of an epiphytic lichen and its phorophyte tree species", Journal of Biogeography, - (2018) .
Oney-Birol S, S Fitz-Gibbon, JM Chen, PF Gugger, VL Sork, "Assessment of shared alleles in drought-associated candidate genes among southern California white oak species (Quercus sect. Quercus)", BMC Genetics, 19 : 88- (2018) .
Browne L, K Ottewell, VL Sork, J Karubian, "The relative contributions of seed and pollen dispersal to gene flow and genetic diversity in seedlings of a tropical palm", Molecular Ecology, 27 : 3159-3173 (2018) .
Cannon CH, O Brendel, M Deng, AL Hipp, A Kremer, C‐S Kua, C Plomion, J Romero‐Severson, VL Sork, "Gaining a global perspective on Fagaceae genomic diversification and adaptation", New Phytologist, 218 : 894-987 (2018) .
Gugger PF, CT Liang, VL Sork, P Hodgskiss, JW Wright, "Applying landscape genomic tools to forest management and restoration of Hawaiian koa (Acacia koa) in a changing environment", Evolutional Applications, 11 : 231-242 (2018) .
Sork VL, "Genomic studies of local adaptation in natural plant populations", Journal of Heredity, 109 : 3-15 (2018) .
Ortego J, PF Gugger, VL Sork, "Genomic data reveal cryptic lineage diversification and introgression in Californian golden cup oaks (section Protobalanus)", New Phytologist, 218 : 804-818 (2018) .
Sork VL, ST Fitz-Gibbon, D Puiu, M Crepeau, PF Gugger, R Sherman, K Stevens, CH Langley, M Pellegrini, SL Salzberg, "First draft assembly and annotation of the genome of a California endemic oak, Quercus lobata Nee (Fagaceae)", G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, 6 (11): 3485-3495 (2018) .