Kopp Lab

An evolutionary & developmental biology lab

Month: December 2011

A review on the evolution of insect chemosensory systems

Evolution of Insect Olfaction

Neuroethology utilizes a wide range of multidisciplinary approaches to decipher neural correlates of natural behaviors associated with an animal’s ecological niche. By placing emphasis on comparative analyses of adaptive and evolutionary trends across species, a neuroethological perspective is uniquely suited to uncovering general organizational and biological principles that shape the function and anatomy of the nervous system. In this review, we focus on the application of neuroethological principles in the study of insect olfaction and discuss how ecological environment and other selective pressures influence the development of insect olfactory neurobiology, not only informing our understanding of olfactory evolution but also providing broader insights into sensory processing.

History of populations vs history of phenotypes

Here’s a very interesting butterfly paper where they leveraged evolutionary genetic and evo-devo data to look at the history of phenotypes and populations:

Wing patterning gene redefines the mimetic history of Heliconius butterflies

Population phylogeny based on neutral markers is a mess and reflects geography more than history due to episodes of hybridization.  On the other, phylogeny based on the gene responsible for part of the wing color pattern reveals the evolutionary history of that phenotype.  This should be true in a lot of cases – the best way to understand the evolution of phenotypes is to identify the genetic changes responsible for those phenotypes.  Mapping phenotypic characters on trees constructed from random loci will not always give you the true answer.  All the more reason to go after the causative genes!

Tb-marked balancers for the X and 2nd chromosomes

This sounds great – will make it much easier to select the right pupae for dissection.  Here is the paper:

Tubby-tagged balancers for the Drosophila X and second chromosomes

We generated FM7a and CyO balancer chromosomes bearing a Tubby1 (Tb1) dominant transgene. Flies heterozygous for these FM7a and CyO derivatives exhibit a phenotype undistinguishable from that elicited by the Tb1 mutation associated with the TM6B balancer. We tested two of these Tb-bearing balancers (FM7-TbA and CyO-TbA) for more than 30 generations and found that the Tb1 transgene they carry is stable. Thus, these new Tb-tagged balancers are particularly useful for balancing lethal mutations and distinguish homozygous mutant larvae from their heterozygous siblings.

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