My research investigates the mechanisms of adaptive differentiation and speciation. I am especially interested in how plants respond to their local environments, and the role those adaptations play in diversification at the genomic, population, and species levels. While evidence for local adaptation in plants is abundant, much less is known about the particular traits and genes that confer this specialization to specific environments. To this end, my research uses the wildflower genera Ipomopsis and Mimulus to examine how environmental variation influences phenotypic and genetic variation among natural plant populations. I combine observations of natural populations and experimental manipulations in the field and greenhouse with tools from quantitative genetics and physiological ecology. My projects take me to field sites in the northern Cascades in Washington, down through the Southern California foothills, and eastward to the Colorado rockies. Together, these studies provide insight into how environmental stresses, adaptation to these conditions, and evolutionary change are intertwined, using tractable, ecologically relevant systems.
* denotes undergraduate coauthor
Wu CA, LA Murray*, and KE Heffernan. 2015. Evidence for natural hybridization between native and introduced lineages of Phragmites australis (Poaceae) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. American Journal of Botany 102: 805-812.
Fishman L, JH Willis, CA Wu, and Y-W Lee. 2014. Comparative linkage maps reveal that fission, not polyploidy, underlies chromosome number doubling within the monkeyflowers (Mimulus; Phrymaceae). Heredity 112: 562-568.
Wu CA, MA Streisfeld, LI Nutter, and K Cross*. 2013. The genetic basis of a rare flower color polymorphism in Mimulus lewisii provides insight into the repeatability of evolution. PLoS ONE 8: e81173.
Campbell DR and CA Wu. 2013. Geographical variation in hybridization of Ipomopsis (Polemoniaceae): testing the role of photosynthetic responses to temperature and water. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 57-64.
Wu CA, CJ Smith*, and AJ Massarro*. 2012. Microsatellite loci in Ipomopsis aggregata (Polemoniaceae) and cross-species applicability for ecological genetics studies. AJB Primer Notes & Protocols 99: e298-e300.
Wu CA, DB Lowry, LI Nutter*, and JH Willis. 2010. Natural variation for drought response traits across the Mimulus guttatus species complex. Oecologia 162: 23-33.
Campbell DR, CA Wu, and SE Travers. 2010. Photosynthetic and growth responses of reciprocal hybrids to variation in water and nitrogen availability. American Journal of Botany 97: 925-933.
Campbell DR, NM Waser, GA Aldridge, and CA Wu. 2008. Lifetime fitness in two generations of Ipomopsis hybrids. Evolution 62: 2616-2627.
Lowry DB, JL Modliszewski, KM Wright, CA Wu, and JH Willis. 2008. The strength and genetic basis of reproductive isolating barriers in plants. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 363: 3009- 3021 [cover article].
Wu CA, DB Lowry, AM Cooley, KM Wright, YW Lee, and JH Willis. 2008. Mimulus is an emerging model system for the integration of ecological and genomic studies. Heredity 100: 220-230.
Wu CA and DR Campbell. 2007. Leaf physiology reflects environmental differences and cytoplasmic background in Ipomopsis hybrids. American Journal of Botany 94: 1804-1812.
Wu CA. 2006. Characterization of microsatellite loci in Ipomopsis (Polemoniaceae) wildflowers. Molecular Ecology Notes 6: 921-923.
Wu CA and DR Campbell. 2006. Environmental stressors differentially affect leaf ecophysiological responses in two Ipomopsis species and their hybrids. Oecologia 148: 202-212.
Campbell DR, C Galen, and CA Wu. 2005. Ecophysiology of first and second generation hybrids in a natural plant hybrid zone. Oecologia 144: 214-225.
Wu CA and DR Campbell. 2005. Cytoplasmic and nuclear markers reveal contrasting patterns of spatial genetic structure in a natural Ipomopsis hybrid zone. Molecular Ecology 14:781-792 [cover article].
Campbell DR, R Alarcón, and CA Wu. 2003. Reproductive isolation and hybrid pollen disadvantage in Ipomopsis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16: 536-540.
Moran SB, MA Charette, SM Pike, and CA Wicklund. 1999. Differences in seawater particulate organic carbon concentration in samples collected using small- and large-volume methods: the importance of DOC adsorption to the filter blank. Marine Chemistry 67: 33-42.
Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
B.S., Harvey Mudd College
Local adaptation and speciation
Plant population biology and genetics
Evolutionary genetics of invasive species