Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is the foundation of modern biology. However, it has proven remarkably difficult to demonstrate at the genetic, genomic, and population level exactly how wild species adapt to their natural environments. We discuss how one can use large sets of multiple genome sequences from wild populations to understand adaptation, with an emphasis on the small herbaceous plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We present motivation for such studies; summarize progress in describing whole-genome, species-wide sequence variation; and then discuss what insights have emerged from these resources, either based on sequence information alone or in combination with phenotypic data. We conclude with thoughts on opportunities with other plant species and the impact of expected progress in sequencing technology and genome engineering for studying adaptation in nature.
Keywords: Arabidopsis; adaptation; evolution; natural selection; plants; population genomics.