This symposium will explore the rapidly developing impact of genomics research on evolutionary biology. Functional genomics deals with what portions of the genome actually do; comparative genomics involves the comparison of genomes, including genome structure and evolution. Phylogeny has a major role to play in genomics research; phylogenomics exploits the use of evolutionary information to facilitate the assignment of gene function. The five speakers in this symposium will discuss evolutionary implications of their genomics-based research. Genomics research on maize has elucidated the major role that transposable elements play in accelerating the pace of allelic diversification. Allelic diversity is the "raw material" for natural selection; hence, mechanisms that modulate allelic diversity should play an important evolutionary role. Genomics research is playing a major role in crop improvement. Because crop improvement and evolution have been accompanied by dramatic morphological alterations, crops provide model systems for analyses of the evolutionary and developmental genetics underlying morphological innovation in nature. Concomitantly, because many important crops are polyploids, these crops provide models for analyzing the fate of duplicated genes and genomes following polyploidy, which is a major force in plant evolution. Genomic investigations reveal that polyploidy is associated with novel genomic interactions and molecular genetic mechanisms. Microarrays represent one of the most important experimental approaches for discovering the function of genes and have enormous evolutionary application. We may expect to have extensive data bases of gene expression information, which in turn will provide insights into the "ecology of the genome."

Key words: comparative genomics, functional genomics, genomics, microarrays