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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2015

Authors: Favé, MJ; Johnson, RA; Cover, S; Handschuh, S; Metscher, BD; Müller, GB; Gopalan, S; Abouheif, E

Title: Past climate change on Sky Islands drives novelty in a core developmental gene network and its phenotype.

Source: BMC Evol Biol. 2015; 15:183

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Handschuh Stephan

A fundamental and enduring problem in evolutionary biology is to understand how populations differentiate in the wild, yet little is known about what role organismal development plays in this process. Organismal development integrates environmental inputs with the action of gene regulatory networks to generate the phenotype. Core developmental gene networks have been highly conserved for millions of years across all animals, and therefore, organismal development may bias variation available for selection to work on. Biased variation may facilitate repeatable phenotypic responses when exposed to similar environmental inputs and ecological changes. To gain a more complete understanding of population differentiation in the wild, we integrated evolutionary developmental biology with population genetics, morphology, paleoecology and ecology. This integration was made possible by studying how populations of the ant species Monomorium emersoni respond to climatic and ecological changes across five "Sky Islands" in Arizona, which are mountain ranges separated by vast "seas" of desert. Sky Islands represent a replicated natural experiment allowing us to determine how repeatable is the response of M. emersoni populations to climate and ecological changes at the phenotypic, developmental, and gene network levels.

Keywords Pubmed: Animals
Biological Evolution*
Climate Change*
Gene Regulatory Networks*
Genes, Developmental
Genetics, Population

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