Directorate Taxonomy and Phylogeny

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IS EVOLUTION REPEATABLE? INTRODUCING NOVEL TOOLS TO UNRAVEL THE GENETICS OF A PARALLEL GALAPAGOS RADIATION (GENESORT)

Within island archipelagos, an identical set of morphologically and ecologically distinct species is often repeatedly found on the different islands. Although this could be easily be explained by the fact that the different species disperse between the islands and settle each time in the same habitat, multiple studies revealed that species from the same island are most closely related to each other. This important finding suggests that the set of distinct species inhabiting each island evolved repeatedly, independently and strikingly parallel. In this project, we want to challenge this view by arguing that this extraordinary pattern of parallel evolution could also be explained by a mechanism of more frequent within island and rare among island gene-flow, resulting in the sorting of adaptive genes in their respective habitat. This hypothesis will be tested by obtaining phylogenetic information from both adaptive and neutral genes by means of a state of the art next-generation sequencing technology on a presumed parallel beetle radiation from Galapagos. Next, we will develop a novel analysis protocol that, in contrast with classical methods that generate consensus phylogenies, allows to construct individual phylogenies from each gene fragment and summarizes them according to their phylogenetic pattern. These results could potentially indicate that the distinction between ecological and evolutionary processes in the genesis of island communities is less clear-cut as previously assumed.

 

Internal member(s)
Frederik Hendrickx
Carl Vangestel
Other member(s)
Karim GHARBI (University of Edinburgh)
Funding
Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO), JEMU
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