EEB events: Thursday seminar: Genome evolution and differentiation in natural populations of birds: Dr. Niclas Backström, Harvard University
Niclas Backström, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
Characterizing the genetic basis of phenotypic traits influencing fitness and reproductive isolation and understanding the genomic consequences of specific events in the population history are major goals in evolutionary biology. Reaching these goals requires access to both extensive phenotypic data and vast genomic resources. Recent advancements in genome sequencing technology have facilitated the development of genomic resources for nearly any species of interest. Still, unraveling the genetic components underlying traits that contribute to adaptive phenotypes and population divergence in natural populations is limited by phenotypic information and little progress has been made outside the domains of traditional model species. In my talk I will present data from research on three avian study systems where substantial information about phenotypic traits related to fitness and reproductive isolation is available: the collared and the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca and F. albicollis) in Europe, the house finch (Carpodacus mexican us) in North America and the emerging model, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). These species have been of great importance for research on speciation, ecology and host-parasite interactions.
The talk will cover genotype-phenotype identification using alternative approaches, from traditional linkage mapping and candidate gene sequencing to expression profiling, transcriptome- and genome sequencing. I will illustrate how the development of genomic resources has resulted in increased knowledge about the remarkable stability of avian genomes and about the variance in recombination landscapes in birds. More specifically, I will show how the development of dense genetic maps has made identification of candidate regions (a handful of QTL and differentiation outliers on the autosomes and the Z-chromosome) for sexually selected traits like beak and plumage color in the zebra finch and the Ficedula flycatchers possible, how comparative genomic studies has aided in the discovery of specific gene classes (such as fat metabolism) evolving under natural selection in different avian lineages and, how next generation sequencing technology facilitates the characterization of genomic effects of a severe epizootic in the house finch. Finally, I will discuss some novel but unexplored ideas for forthcoming studies, both within these taxa and in new study systems.
Coffee and cookies will be served at 4 p.m.
Host: Professor Elizabeth Tibbetts
Location: 1210 Chemistry