Next week I will give a talk on my PhD research:
Developmental and genetic underpinnings of parallel evolution in turtles
Abstract:The repeated evolution of form and function suggests commonality in processes that influence organismal diversity. Recent studies revealed convergent (dissimilar) or parallel (similar) change in genes linked to similar adult traits in unrelated species. Still, how genes interact during embryogenesis to ultimately give rise to strikingly similar adult morphologies is unclear. We tested the prediction that parallel morphological evolution reflects similar changes in gene activity. By examining expression of nearly 16,000 genes, we uncovered similarity in vast gene networks governing development of a specialized shoulder blade in turtles that independently evolved complex shell-closing systems. Remarkably, in embryos of those species, similar gene networks associated with skeletal differentiation and muscle contraction were temporally and spatially congruent with the de novo formation of a synovial joint, normally found in knees and elbows of vertebrates. This further corroborated that repeated morphological evolution often arises via evolutionarily conserved developmental processes. To our knowledge, our study is the first to sample natural populations to indentify similar developmental origins, cell and molecular, of parallel skeletal evolution in unrelated vertebrate species. Integration of genetics, development, and evolution is crucial to illuminating processes that underlie macroevolutionary patterns of similarity across the tree of life.
See you at the same time and place next week! (coffee and snacks included)