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January 19, 2021

12:00pm Zoom Webinar

Sofia Casasa
Indiana University

" Regulation and Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity: Insights from Horned Beetles and Predatory Nematodes "

Plasticity, an individual’s ability to adjust its phenotype in response to environmental factors, is a ubiquitous property of developmental systems. I aim to understand plasticity across multiple levels of biological organization, its mechanisms and how evolution of and through plasticity shapes phenotypic diversity. I use two model systems (horned beetles and predatory nematodes) that both exhibit an extreme form of plasticity (polyphenism) to gain a broader understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of environmentally sensitive development. In this talk, I will take an ecological, behavioral and evolutionary perspective to understand how plasticity has the potential to shape population differentiation. I will then dive into the developmental, genetic and genomic mechanisms that underlie developmental plasticity and their evolution. Finally, I will talk about how these gene networks underlying novel traits originated in the first place and discuss my future research on the genetic and genomic mechanisms of plasticity, their divergence, and their evolution as a function of sex. Overall, I focus on the mechanisms and evolution of plasticity to understand the complex and context dependent relationship between development and environment that shapes the enormous diversity of organismal forms.

Host: David Jacobs