New challenges and new research directions
- Standard techniques for studying genetic variation (such as Sanger sequencing) will be largely replaced by high-throughput methods in several projects. This will lead to the collection of very large datasets, particularly by next-generation sequencing (Baines, Metzler/Rose, Stephan). In parallel, the powerful computational approaches developed in the first funding period (Hermisson/Pfaffelhuber, Metzler/Rose, Stephan) will be used to analyze these datasets.
- Several efforts will be undertaken to integrate models and data, such that in each case a theoretician will join forces with an empiricist. To analyze the coevolutionary dynamics of host and social parasites in ants influenced by defense and counter-adaptations, ABC will be used in the project of S. Foitzik and D. Metzler. Furthermore, NGS data will be collected in wild tomatoes and analyzed by Jaatha and other ABC and composite-likelihood methods by D. Metzler and L. Rose. Finally, J. Hermisson and W. Stephan will study the relationship between selection at the molecular level (e.g. leading to selective sweeps) and selection on quantitative traits using modeling and empirical approaches.
- Two young investigators will join the Research Unit: S. Hutter and J. Wolinska.
Stephan Hutter will analyze gene expression in response to a cold treatment for D. melanogaster lines from tropical (African) and temperate (European) habitats. Thus, he adds an important component to the Research Unit by strengthening the functional analyses of natural variation.
Justyna Wolinska studies the role of hybridization in the colonization of new habitats using Daphnia. She will collaborate with J. Hermisson on the modeling of the dynamics of natural hybridizing communities using field data.
The individual projects fall into three categories:
- P1 - Selective sweeps in Drosophila melanogaster
- P2 - Gene expression variation in natural populations of Drosophila
- P3 - Transcriptional basis of cold adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster
- P4 - The influence of the B4galnt2 gene and host population structure on the intestinal microbiota in house mice
- P5 - Population genetic methods for inferring adaptation in populations with complex demography