Kay Pilkington

Doctor of Philosophy, (Plant Biology)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The genetic architecture of the divaricate growth form: A QTL mapping approach in Sophora (Fabaceae)

Divarication is a plant growth form described as a tree or shrub with interlaced branches, wide branch angles and small, widely spaced leaves, giving the appearance of a densely tangled shrub. The high frequency of divarication is considered a unique feature in New Zealand’s flora, making up approximately 10% of the woody plant species. Prior to this study, no work had addressed the genetic basis of the divaricating form. Ms Pilkington used a quantitative trait locus mapping approach to investigate the genetic basis of the divaricating growth form in the genus Sophora (Fabaceae). The findings from her research aided in developing the first linkage maps for Sophora. In addition, the genetic basis of divarication was shown to be complex, involving many regions of the genome. This research contributes to our understanding of the genetic basis of divarication (a unique feature of New Zealand’s flora), and of plant architecture generally.

Dr Vaughan Symonds
Dr Peter Heenan
Associate Professor Jennifer Tate