Grant: $613,510 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 3, 2009
0% voted satisfied - 100% voted not satisfied - 6 vote(s) cast
Award Description: Physiological processes provide the functional connection between the genome and the environment. Over the years, a rich literature has emerged concerning physiological response to variable environments; however, much less is known about how genetic variation in natural populations leads to the evolution of physiological function along environmental gradients. At temperate and polar latitudes, the appropriate timing of growth, development, reproduction, dormancy and migration is an essential element of fitness in seasonal environments. Animals from rotifers to rodents are able to anticipate and prepare for these changing seasons by using day length (photoperiodism). The correlation between photoperiodic response and climate is well established; however, the genes involved in the adaptive evolution of photoperiodic response over climatic gradients have not been determined in natural populations of any animal. The research will use quantitative genetic and molecular approaches to determine the genes and their interactions that underlie the evolution of photoperiodic response in the pitche-plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii. Wyeomyia smithii is the ideal organism in which to examine this essential physiological process since 1. it has a geographically clean, genetically based photoperiodic response over a large climatic gradient; (2) it is easily reared and hybridized in actual pitcher plants within computer-controlled climate rooms; (3) the required parental and hybrid lines and the required genetic tools for use in the proposed research have already been developed by researchers in this laboratory. Comparative gene expression and comparative QTL mapping will be used to determine whether the same suites of genes have been responsible for the evolution of the photoperiodic timer over shorter (20,000-year) and longer (300,000-year) time scales and, consequently, whether evolution of this physiologically important trait takes place by the recruitment of new alleles to pre-existing loci or by the recruitment of new loci. The results will also answer the questions: Does the perception of the genetic structure underlying the evolution of a physiological process depend upon (1) whether the genetic architecture is evaluated over shorter or longer evolutionary times and (2) whether gene expression is measured during the day or during the night? Because change in the seasonal timing of life-history events has been the major evolutionary response of animal populations to recent climate change, the genes that are identified as important in W. smithii's ability to exploit the climatic gradient of North America also become candidate loci for the genetic basis of response to rapid climate change. Broader Impacts: Within the last year, work from this lab was selected as one of ten from across all divisions of NSF that best met the mission of NSF for Discovery, to 'Foster research that will advance the frontiers of knowledge.' Continuing in this tradition, identifying the correct mechanisms of genetic response of animals to rapid climate change is important for predicting and mitigating the spread of vectors of disease from tropical to temperate zones, for evaluating the efficacy of introductions of predators and parasites for biocontrol, for agricultural development and for conserving biodiversity. This lab serves as a spokesman on the genetics of response to rapid climate warming at the national and international levels and as a resource to health agencies concerning vector-borne diseases world wide. The research will continue a strong commitment to undergraduate research participation and training. Undergraduate students from this lab have gone on to graduate or medical school, to careers as teachers, applied biologists, lawyers or journalists, and other professions. Regardless of their future endeavors, these students constitute an informed citizenry, more aware of basic research, its importance, and its implications.
Project Description: Manuscript and grant reviewing; data analysis, manuscript preparation, undergraduate, graduate and post-doc mentoring and planning and setting up experiments.
Jobs Summary: Dr. Holzapfel's role is in designing and overseeing the execution of experiments, continually reviewing and updating the logistical day-to-day functioning of the lab, working up data, publishing results, mentoring students from undergraduates to post-docs, and interacting with the lay public. Dr. Holzapfel's was trained primarily in biogeography, evolution and developmental biology and, together with Dr. William E. Bradshaw, has developed the genetic component of their research. Dr. Holzapfel's also has expertise in writing and editorial matters and in keeping the lab focused on the broader significance of the research and its relevance to the general public. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 3, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.