Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species, first published in 1859, put forth the theory that organisms evolve over many generations through the process of natural selection. One hundred and fifty years hence, we have determined the chemical basis of inheritance in the structure of DNA, we have sequenced the genomes of thousands of organisms, including our own, and have made good progress in unraveling the molecular mechanisms of many of life's basic processes; and we are finding that Darwinian concepts apply to the evolution of cellular and biomolecular systems. This symposium brings together some of the leading researchers in evolutionary dynamics and mathematical modeling to talk about the evolution itself of Darwin's theory, and its applications to diverse systems such as cancer and infectious diseases.
|Monday, November 10|
|8:50-9:00am||Welcome remarks from Marty Golubitsky and Avner Friedman|
|9:00-9:50am||Joan Herbers: The extended genome: Darwin's 'one special difficulty'|
|9:50-10:40am||Gonzalo Giribet: Looking forward to the reconstruction of the Animal Tree of Life-morphology and phylogenomics|
|11:00-11:50am||Peter Schuster: Darwin and evolutionary dynamics 150 years after the 'Origin of Species'|
|1:30-2:20pm||Hopi Hoekstra: From Darwin to DNA: finding the molecular targets of natural selection in the wild|
|2:20-3:10pm||Daniel Janies: The Supramap project: Fighting emergent infectious diseases with evolutionary principles|
|3:30-4:20pm||Wolfgang Sadee: Regulatory polymorphisms of unexpected frequency in key candidate genes implicated in mental disorders|
Assembling a stable Animal Tree of Life has become an achievable goal since the recent addition of phylogenomics to the kit of systematists. With this aim in mind we have explored phylogenomic data, mostly based on novel EST (Expressed Sequence Tag) data but also based on available genomic information, of most animal phyla. At the same time we have also developed new strategies for coding morphological information from extant and extinct metazoans and combined them with the phylogenomic data. Here I will present some of our current hypotheses on metazoan relationships based on genomic data and explore the role and contribution of morphology in a genomic world.
In The origin of species Darwin noted that the existence of "neuters" in social insects (i.e. sterile worker castes) presented "by far the most serious difficulty" for his theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin offered an explanation based on family-level selection but remained troubled about how sterility might evolve.
In 1964 Hamilton proposed an explanation by introducing the concept of inclusive fitness and selection on the extended genome within kin-structured groups. His proposal has proven tremendously fertile, spawning entire new areas of research. Yet his explanation specific to the evolution of sterility in social insects has remained controversial.
In this talk I will present an overview of the history of thought on the evolution of sociality and synthesize recent work that shows Darwin and Hamilton were right.
We will soon celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his magnum opus, On the Origin of Species, which first adumbrates his theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin's theory was especially remarkable because he was, at the time, without any knowledge of genetics. Since Darwin, the discovery of chromosomes and later DNA, has provided that missing mechanism of inheritance. More recently, we have been able to take advantage of genetic, and now genomic, tools to provide yet another layer of evidence to instantiate Darwin's theory. That is, we can identify the precise DNA base-pair changes, which give rise through development to the phenotypic variation that is the target of natural selection. In this talk, I will present some of our latest results - from both the laboratory and the field - on the molecular and developmental changes responsible for color adaptation in natural populations of mice.
Darwinian principles such as natural selection and the use of tree-based diagrams to explain organismal diversification are key concepts in modern biology. These principles are especially important to understand the evolution and spread of infectious diseases over time, space, and various hosts.
We developed means to use evolution to integrate genomic, phenotypic, and geographic data for pathogens. We have made these tools available via a web-based application called Supramap (http://supramap.osu.edu). Given raw genomic, temporal, and phenotypic data, the application calculates a phylogenetic tree, the mutations and host shifts implied by the tree, and animates the branches of the tree into a virtual globe. The resultant virtual globe can be used to visualize the spread of diverse pathogen strains over geographic regions and hosts.
Supramap also provides public health officials regionally specific information on mutations necessary for diagnosing and forecasting the threats that pathogens pose to animals and humans. For example, we have mapped the evolution and spread of lineages of avian influenza (H5N1) with genotypes that confer resistance to drugs. Although we focus on infectious diseases our tools provide an abstract solution that can be applied to any biogeographic problem in the natural sciences.
At present Darwin's concept of optimization and adaptation to the environment through variation and selection can be tested in laboratory experiments. Replicating nucleic acid molecules fulfill all prerequisites for evolution and can be designed for predefined purposes by means of selection techniques. In the lecture an overview of various approaches - in silico and in vitro - for understanding the mechanisms of evolution on the molecular level will be given. Eventually, we shall highlight the role neutrality in evolution, which was foreseen by Charles Darwin as a possibility and postulated by Motoo Kimura to explain molecular sequence data. Nowadays neutrality is recognized as an indispensable feature of successful optimization on realistic landscapes.