Laura Kelly

Laura KellyI am an evolutionary biologist. I’m particularly interested in reticulate evolution, such as hybridisation and recombination, but also in other processes that impact on genome evolution and complexity, including polyploidy (whole genome duplication) and genome size change.

I am currently working as a postdoctoral research associate on the project “Identifying genomic resources against pests and pathogens in tree genera: a case study in Fraxinus“, which is funded by the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (Phase 2). My role entails the sequencing and analysis of nuclear genomes for multiple species of Fraxinus with the aim of identifying candidate genes for resistance/reduced susceptibility to ash dieback and emerald ash borer.

I am also contributing to work on the Fraxinus excelsior reference genome sequence (see In particular, I have been focusing on the annotation of repetitive DNA and the analysis of gene families (including identifying putative gene family expansions and contractions in F. excelsior).

Latest publications
Dodsworth S, Chase MW, Kelly LJ, Leitch IJ, Macas J, P Novák, M Piednoël, Weiss-Schneeweiss H, Leitch AR. (2015). Genomic Repeat Abundances Contain Phylogenetic Signal. Systematic Biology DOI:10.1093/sysbio/syu080

Kelly LJ*, Renny-Byfield S, Pellicer J, Macas J, Novák P, Neumann P, Lysak MA, Day PD, Berger M, Fay MF, Nichols RA, Leitch AR*, Leitch IJ*. (2015). Analysis of the giant genomes of Fritillaria (Liliaceae) indicates that a lack of DNA removal characterizes extreme expansions in genome size. New Phytologist, online early: DOI: 10.1111/nph.13471.
*Corresponding authors

McCarthy EW, Arnold SEJ, Chittka L, Le Comber SC, Verity R, Dodsworth S, Knapp S, Kelly LJ, Chase MW, Baldwin IT, Kovařík A, Mhiri C, Taylor L, Leitch AR. (2015). The effect of polyploidy and hybridization on the evolution of floral colour in Nicotiana (Solanaceae). Annals of Botany, 115: 1117-1131.

Schneider H, Liu H, Clark J, Hidalgo O, Pellicer J, Zhang S, Kelly LJ, Fay MF, Leitch IJ. (2015). Are the genomes of royal ferns really frozen in time? Evidence for coinciding genome stability and limited evolvability in the royal ferns. New Phytologist, online early: DOI: 10.1111/nph.13330.

Selected other publications
Becher H, Ma L, Kelly LJ, Kovarik A, Leitch IJ, Leitch AR. (2014). Endogenous pararetrovirus sequences associated with 24 nt small RNAs at the centromeres of Fritillaria imperialis L. (Liliaceae), a species with a giant genome. The Plant Journal, DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12673.

Day PD, Berger M, Hill L, Fay MF, Leitch AR, Leitch IJ, Kelly LJ*. (2014). Evolutionary relationships in the medicinally important genus Fritillaria L. (Liliaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 80: 11-19.
*Corresponding author

Kelly LJ*, Hollingsworth PM, Ellis CJ, Coppins BJ, Harrold P, Tosh J, Yahr R. (2011) DNA barcoding of lichenized fungi demonstrates high identification success in a floristic context. New Phytologist 191: 288-300.
*Corresponding author

Kelly LJ*, Leitch AR, Clarkson JJ, Hunter RB, Knapp S, Chase MW. (2010). Intragenic recombination and evidence for hybrid speciation in Nicotiana (Solanaceae). Molecular Biology and Evolution, 27: 781-799.
*Corresponding author

Kelly LJ*, Leitch AR, Clarkson JJ, Knapp S, Chase MW. (2013). Reconstructing the complex evolutionary origin of wild allopolyploid tobaccos (Nicotiana section Suaveolentes). Evolution, 67: 80-94.
*Corresponding author

Kelly LJ*, Leitch AR, Fay MF, Renny-Byfield S, Pellicer J, Macas J, Leitch IJ. (2012). Why size really matters when sequencing plant genomes. Plant Ecology & Diversity, 5: 415-425.
*Corresponding author

Kelly LJ*, Leitch I J. (2011) Exploring giant plant genomes with next-generation sequencing technology. Chromosome Research, 19: 939-953.
*Corresponding author

Pellicer J, Kelly LJ, Leitch IJ, Zomlefer WB, Fay MF. (2014). A universe of dwarfs and giants: genome size and chromosome evolution in the monocot family Melanthiaceae. New Phytologist, 201: 1484-1497.

Renny-Byfield S, Kovarik A, Kelly LJ, Macas J, Novak P, Chase MW, Nichols RA, Pancholi MR, Grandbastien M-A, Leitch AR. (2013). Diploidisation and genome size change in allopolyploids is associated with differential dynamics of low and high copy sequences. The Plant Journal, DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12168.

A full list of my publications can be found here.