The lab-meeting the coming week will take place in "Argumentet" (not in "Darwin") at 13.30 on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. We will discuss a TREE-review by Tanya Schwander and Olle Leimar, entitled "Genes as leaders and followers in evolution". The authors discuss an idéa that has largely been pushed by Mary Jane West-Eberhard that genes are not the most important "actors" in evolution, but are rather followers, and that the environment plays a more important role than has traditionally been thought, through its effects on the developmental plasticity of organisms. This is a controversial suggestion, and not all evolutionary biologist will necessarily agree. Let's see what the evidence says about this then! Below is more information about the paper.
Tanja Schwander & Olof Leimar
"A major question for the study of phenotypic evolution is whether intra- and interspecific diversity originates directly from genetic variation, or instead, as plastic responses to environmental influences initially, followed later by genetic change. In species with discrete alternative phenotypes, evolutionary sequences can be inferred from transitions between environmental and genetic phenotype control, and from losses of phenotypic alternatives. From the available evidence, sequences appear equally probable to start with genetic polymorphism as with polyphenism, with a possible dominance of one or the other for specific trait types. We argue in this review that to evaluate the prevalence of each route, an investigation of both genetic and environmental cues for phenotype determination in several related rather than in isolated species is required."