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Heredity (Edinb). 2008 Feb;100(2):178-83. Epub 2007 May 23.

Ecological genomics: understanding gene and genome function in the natural environment.

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  • 1Division of Biology, Ecological Genomics Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


The field of ecological genomics seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying responses of organisms to their natural environments. This is being achieved through the application of functional genomic approaches to identify and characterize genes with ecological and evolutionary relevance. By its very nature, ecological genomics is an interdisciplinary field. In this review, we consider the significance of this new area of study from both an ecological and genomic perspective using examples from the recent literature. We submit that by considering more fully an ecological context, researchers may gain additional insights into the underlying genetic basis of ecologically relevant phenotypic variation. Likewise, genomic approaches are beginning to offer new insights into higher-level biological phenomena that previously occupied the realm of ecological investigation only. We discuss various approaches that are likely to be useful in ecological genomic studies and offer thoughts on where this field is headed in the future.

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