Evolutionary biology aims at identifying the forces that drive species evolution and understanding how these forces in interaction with the environment shape the biodiversity. Among them, I have a peculiar interest for the process of natural selection. It is indeed natural selection that explains the adequacy between phenotypes and their environment. In my research group we are studying the genetic architecture underlying phenotypic traits involved in adaptation to environmental variation with a special focus on structural variations (aka macro-mutations).
A main outcome of a decade of extensive sequencing effort is that genomic structural variation (short insertions / deletions, gene duplications / deletions, copy number variations, inversions, polyploidization) accounts for more genetic diversity than point mutations. However the role of such polymorphisms in adaptation at short and intermediate evolutionary time scale has been overlooked. To investigate such questions we combine -omics approaches with experimentations (common garden, experimental evolution), working with specimen from the lab and from natural populations. We also develop new analytical frameworks (https://github.com/milesilab/). Using the case of mosquitoes as model species we are studying the relationships between structure – function of mega-segmental duplications conferring resistance to insecticide. Using forest trees species we are studying the role of copy number variation in adaptation along environmental gradients and the potential of their use as genetic markers in breeding programs. Finally, we use Brassicaceae species to conduct -omics studies and experimental evolution aiming at quantifying key parameters (mutation rate, distribution of fitness effects, segregation pattern) of structural variants to further develop population genetics models. Our research finds outcome in vector control, plant breeding but also in conservation genetics.
- Laura Moro (UU, EBC, Plant ecology and evolution program)
- Jean-Loup Claret (University of Montpellier, France)
- Luis Leal (UU, EBC, Plant ecology program)
- Piyal Karunarathne
- Violette Doublet (Wenner-Gren)
- Qiujie Zhou