Evolution of developmental plasticity and life history in insects

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2011
End date: 31/12/2013
Funding: 1500000 SEK


Developmental plasticity is ubiquitous and it plays a central role in the diversification of life. Developmental switches integrate genetic and environmental effects on phenotypes and they are sites where natural selection may influence the genetic basis of plasticity. By channeling developing individuals into alternative and semi-independent developmental pathways such switches underlie the modular nature of development. In this project I will investigate to what degree switch-induced alternative developmental pathways allows selection to favor partly independent optimization of traits downstream of the switch. I will combine mechanistic and genetic studies of developmental switches in butterflies with studies of how the phenotypic variation influences fitness in realistic ecological settings. The project focuses on adaptation of developmental switches and pathways of two different types (life cycle and color dimorphisms) that are sensitive different environmental cues. I will explore geographic variation in selection on the diapause switch to test if selection favors differential optimization of traits along alternative developmental pathways. This will be combined with a population genetic study to determine if the level of adaptation is related to geneflow among different populations. The project may yield results of general interest regarding the evolution and genetic architecture of switch-controlled developmental plasticity in a relevant ecological setting.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58