Our speaker this Friday, November 3, is Dr. Andrew Whitehead from UC Davis. We be in Field Auditorium, Environment Hall, on Duke’s West Campus, for his talk from 12:00 pm – 1:20 pm. Please join us!
Dr. Whitehead will be speaking about “The Solution to Pollution is … Evolution? The Genomic Basis of Rapid Adaptation in Killfish.” The abstract for his talk is below:
A hallmark of biological systems is their ability to evolve and adapt to changing environmental conditions. In particular, species have been successfully evolving adaptations to chemical poisons for billions of years. They key challenge in the anthropocene is the severity and pace of change of the chemical environment. What are the attributes of species that contribute to their adaptive potential in the face of such environmental change, and what kinds of genetic changes are necessary to rescue species from extinction? Killifish are abundant in estuaries along the Atlantic coast of North America, including in sites polluted with common and persistent organic pollutants. Rapid adaptive evolution has increased the frequency of genetic variants that contribute to heritable chemical tolerance in polluted sites. We present an analysis of 400 whole genome sequences and transcriptomics to reveal the genes and pathways that affect chemical sensitivity in these populations. Importantly, this evolutionary process, coupled with our analysis, has revealed the types of sensitivity-affecting mutations that remain fit in nature. We also present some preliminary QTL mapping that links sensitivity to particular classes of chemicals to particular genes. We propose a comparative QTL mapping program to link sensitivity to specific chemicals (dioxins, PCBs, PAHs) and resistance to particular developmental phenotypes (cardiovascular system and craniofacial developmental abnormalities) in multiple genetic backgrounds. This program should reveal the types of mutations, and the genes and pathways in which they may occur, that affect sensitivity to multiple developmental syndromes upon exposure to environmental pollution while maintaining animal fitness in the real world
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