Photo of Melvin R. DuvallProfessor Melvin R. Duvall

Associated Staff - Herbarium

Fields of Interest: Plant molecular evolution; Systematics and evolution of grasses; Plastome phylogenomics; Plant conservation and biodiversity.

Research Interests

I am interested in the inference of plant phylogeny by the determination and analysis of different types of molecular markers. Plant evolutionary histories are often complex. They frequently incorporate hybridization events that may be accompanied by polyploidization, selection that can lead to phenotypic and molecular convergences, irregular horizontal gene transfers, and other cryptic processes.
Inferring these histories from molecular data is based on an understanding of molecular evolution.  The science of molecular evolution has developed models for different types of mutations, abilities to recognize how DNA sequences cause and indicate mutations, and mechanisms for different types of mutations.  Mutations occur with predictable frequencies in the environment of given sequences. Over time they accumulate to easily detectable levels. They are the source of variation for evolutionary changes.
In my current research, evolutionary histories are inferred from the small complete genomes of plastids. High throughput methods are used for DNA sequence determination, followed by genomic or exon assembly and phylogenomic inference using bioinformatics methods.  This work creates phylogenomic context for the understanding of plant diversification, the origin of functional ecological traits, and the ability to correlate divergence times with paleoclimate, glaciations, and other potential triggers of plant evolution.



Ph.D., 1987, University of Minnesota, St. Paul
M.S., 1980, University of Iowa, Iowa City
B. S., 1977, Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa

Fields of Interest

Plant molecular evolution and systematics; Comparative chloroplast genome analysis; Plant conservation and biodiversity; and Agrostology.


Melvin R. Duvall,
(815) 753-7806 
Office: MO 345, Lab: MO 321
Dept. of Biological Sciences Nothern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115