Using next-generation sequence data to uncover the molecular basis for convergent evolution in the cephalopod cornea

Annie Lindgren
Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University

(March 31, 2011 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

Using next-generation sequence data to uncover the molecular basis for convergent evolution in the cephalopod cornea

Abstract

Large-scale shifts in habitat during evolution require lineages to respond to new selective pressures, often resulting in a cavalcade of novel morphologies. In cases where distantly related taxa occupy similar or sympatric habitats, similar characteristics often arise independently, resulting in convergence. Cephalopods are a morphologically diverse group marine molluscs whose members have undergone several transitions between pelagic (free-swimming) and benthic (associated with the bottom) lifestyles, which has lead to the evolution of apparent convergences such as light-producing organs and a cornea covering the eye. To uncover the molecular mechanisms influencing convergent evolution in cephalopods, I utilize next-generation sequencing techniques to analyze gene expression patterns in the cephalopod cornea, a structure that has arisen independently in the squid and octopus lineages. Results from this study provide new insight into the origins of complexity, and into the impact molecular mechanisms such as gene sharing and duplication have on a macro-evolutionary scale.