New grants for Evolution and Ecology researchers
Researchers at the department have recieved grants for new exciting research projects.
A short description of some of the projects are found below.
Species Range Dynamics Under Climate Change: An Integrative Approach
Forecasting the ecological consequences of climate change requires a stronger synthesis of information about the processes that govern species range dynamics. The aim of this project is to better understand range dynamics of tropical trees by synthesizing data on demographic rates, physiological traits, and current distributions. The project will focus on forests in Puerto Rico, and leverage long-term data from diverse forests across broad climate gradients.
The Genetic Architecture of Sexual Dimorphism
Sex differences are commonplace and often the greatest source of phenotypic variation within species. Their evolution is a puzzle, however, because although the sexes commonly experience divergent selection pressures, their independent response to selection is constrained by the largely shared genome. This project will investigate how sex differences in body size evolve by using laboratory evolution, quantitative genetic and genomic techniques, and seed beetles as the model system. By testing several theoretical predictions of what it takes to evolve sexual dimorphism, we hope to get a deeper understanding of how to resolve the conflict over shared genes and where in the genome the resolution lurks.
Climate change and trophic cascade effects on community assembly processes and ecosystem functioning in plankton
The overall aim of the project is to investigate how priority effects, caused by differences in the arrival order of species during initial colonization of a habitat, influence spatial patterns in community composition. More specifically, we will investigate how changes in abiotic conditions resulting from climate change, such as increases in temperature, productivity and environmental fluctuations, interactively affect the strength of priority effects relative to other assembly processes and how that, in turn, influences ecosystem functioning. Further we will investigate if priority effects that occur at higher trophic levels cascade through food webs and cause differences in community composition and ecosystem functioning at lower trophic levels. To address these questions we will use micro- and mesocosms experiments with microbial plankton communities.
Mutation bias in adaptive evolution and the adaptive evolution of mutation bias
Evolutionary theory typically considers the phenotypic effects of new mutations as independent of past selection, but this view has recently been challenged. If selection does not only discriminate among the phenotypes that mutation has created, but also influences which phenotypes that mutation initially creates, this would have fundamental implications for the relationship between mutation and its demographic consequences, as well as for the rate and repeatability of evolution. However, we know next to nothing about the conditions under which natural selection can shape mutational effects. This proposal aims to help fill this void by using three different insect models to explore if and how selection shapes the phenotypic penetrance of de novo mutations in life-history, morphology, gene expression and fitness over different evolutionary time frames. Additionally, we will use a comparative dataset on organisms across the tree of life to test the corollary prediction that de novo mutations should have stronger fitness effects in novel environments, where selection has not yet had the opportunity to buffer environmental and genetic stress. The ideas and experiments presented here go well beyond the current state-of-the-art and are aimed at showing how recently proposed challenges to the Modern Synthesis are in fact reconcilable with standard quantitative genetics theory.
Metagenomic time travel to study the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in microbiomes of wild Swedish mammals
Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat for human health worldwide and poses a significant financial burden in treatment costs. Using dental calculus, the calcified bacterial biofilm that forms on teeth of mammals, we will investigate how the levels of antimicrobial resistance and the diversity of antimicrobial resistance genes have changed through time in several wild mammals, such as bears and reindeer. With the help of museum collections, we will first determine the baseline of antimicrobial resistance in host-associated microbiomes before humans started mass-producing antibiotics in the 1940s. Progressing through time towards the presence, we will study the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in response to increased antibiotic production 1940s-1990s and the effectiveness of the national Strama plan (introduced in 1995) to curb antimicrobial resistance.
Symbiont protection in mutualisms and Symbiont protection - a novel ecological concept and map to drug discovery
Charlotte Jandér studies the ecology and evolution of mutualisms. Her research looks at how mutualisms avoid enemies from within, such as cheating partners that take the benefits of the interaction without paying the costs. Her recent funding from VR and Formas will extend this work to study enemies that are external to the mutualism: who are they, what are their fitness costs, and how do mutualisms protect themselves against these enemies? Fieldwork will initially focus on the mutualism between fig trees and their pollinating fig wasps, where fitness can easily be quantified.
The genomic repeatability of life history adaptation
Insight into the repeatability of adaptation represents a current challenge in evolutionary biology, because it requires a detailed understanding both of the presumed complex genetic architecture of adaptation and of the interplay between deterministic and contingent forces in evolution. Such an understanding is generally not in place. I will employ a unique set of replicated bi-directional experimental evolution lines of an insect, maintained for more than 300 generations. I will perform life history phenotyping, a major comprehensive next-generation sequencing effort and a quantitative genetic breeding design in order to assess the extent to which similar adaptive phenotypic evolutionary trajectories involve similar genetic trajectories. I will be able to determine the number of genes and gene networks that are involved in life history adaptation and will estimate repeatability at several different levels (i.e., phenotypes, networks, haplotypes, genes, transcripts and SNPs). Dedicated efforts will be made to determine the relative roles of coding and non-coding regions of the genome and to identify epistatic interactions that mediate life history adaptation. This project greatly extends previous studies of microbes and those of simper traits, and is beyond state-of-the-art by (1) aiming to understand the genomic repeatability of complex life history adaptations in a metazoan and (2) using a deep and exceptionally integrative methodological and inferential strategy.
Evolution of sex determination
The evolution of separate sexes is of fundamental importance in biology. Sex determining mechanisms are highly variable and labile and sex chromosomes often degenerate; however, the underlying evolutionary mechanisms are unclear. Theoretical studies predict that sex chromosome evolution is driven by sex ratio selection and/or by different forms of genetic conflict, for example, between males and females or between cytoplasm and nucleus. Empirical evidence for these predictions is scarce, in part because the best-studied systems are animals with ancient sex chromosomes. This project investigates a plant family with separate sexes (Salicaeae, willows and poplars) where a high turnover of recently emerged sex chromosomes has been suggested and sex ratio bias is common. The project has three main objectives: (1) identify the mechanisms for sex determination and sex ratio bias, (2) analyze signs of degeneration in sex-associated region(s), and (3) investigate the evolutionary history and dynamics of genomic region(s) associated with sex-determination and sex-ratio bias. This comprehensive approach will allow us to gain novel insights into sex chromosome evolution and evolutionary processes at large.
Molecular mechanisms and evolutionary forces underlying recombination frequency in butterflies and Characterization of the genetic basis of migratory behavior in butterflies
Despite the central role of recombination in chromosome segregation accuracy, speciation processes, adaptive potential of populations and generation and maintenance of diversity, knowledge about recombination rate variation is limited to a handful of model organisms with little relevance to natural conditions. The aim of this project is therefore to quantify the mechanistic and evolutionary underpinnings and consequences of recombination rate variation. Butterflies are tractable organisms for this quest; they demonstrate high diversity in adaptations, behavior and speciation and have specific characteristics suitable for investigating causes and consequences of variation in recombination. High-density recombination maps will be developed for three closely related species of butterflies using a combination of cutting-edge techniques. The data will be used to characterize the main determinants and consequences of recombination rate variation. This is a timely topic since living organisms are currently facing one of the greatest environmental emergencies in history, exemplified by recent reports on massive declines and rapidly changing behavior in many butterflies. Characterization of mechanisms underlying recombination will lead to novel understanding about forces affecting genetic diversity and adaptive potential in natural populations.
Genomic, phenotypic and ecological divergence in a diverse clade of passerine birds
Understanding how new species are formed is one of the most fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. Speciation involves divergence in genetic and phenotypic traits, but the interplay between and relative roles of different factors for the evolution of reproductive isolation are poorly known. The purpose of this study is to address several outstanding issues in speciation research, relating to (1) genomic, phenotypic and ecological correlates of speciation and divergence; (2) identification of genomic regions under selection; and (3) evolution of reproductive isolation. We will study the ~80 species in the avian family Phylloscopidae (leaf warblers), for which a wealth of data on morphology, vocalisations, ecology and geographical distributions are available. Using whole genomes, we will ask: (i) whether divergent genomic regions have arisen in homologous or different parts of the genome across species; (ii) whether repeated phenotypic changes have a similar genetic basis; (iii) whether clades or species with novel phenotypic traits show distinct genetic signatures compared to their nearest relatives; (iv) whether genomic and phenotypic evolution is faster on islands than on continents; and (v) how divergence in genetic, phenotypic and ecological traits are linked to reproductive isolation and establishment of sympatry. By studying genomic, phenotypic and ecological diversity at all stages of divergence this project will provide unique insights into the process of speciation.
Nyheter från institutionen för ekologi och genetik
Fågelfamiljen astrilders släktträd nu rekonstruerat
Nu har forskare vid Göteborgs universitet och Uppsala universitet publicerat den hittills mest omfattande studien av släktträdet för fågelfamiljen astrilder. Gruppen omfattar några av de mest populära burfåglarna.
Meet our scientists at Scifest!
On March 5 - 7, Uppsala University and SLU hosts the science festival Scifest at Fyrishov. Many scientists from the Department of Organismal Biology will be there.
Svampinfektion hindrar grodors rörlighet
Gölgrodor som smittats av av chytridsvampen "Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis" rör sig kortare sträckor än ickeinfekterade individer. Det visar en ny studie gjord av forskare vid Uppsala universitet och SLU. Forskarna har undersökt hur svampen påverkat rörligheten hos de rödlistade gölgrodorna längs upplandskusten.
IEG-forskare berättar om isbildning i radio
Novel method for reading complete genomes from limited amounts of biological material
An improved method for reading and interpreting genomes from organisms that are difficult to investigate has been developed at Uppsala University. A team of researchers, led by Dr Anna Rosling, has applied this method to decipher the genetic information of fungi present in the environment, which can be relevant, for example, for plant growth.
A blog post about the proliferation of prinia species
Podcast with Anna Qvarnström
New grants for Evolution and Ecology researchers
Researchers at the department have recieved grants for new exciting research projects.
IEG scientists on list of the most cited and productive scientists in Sweden
The Swedish magazine Fokus has ranked the most cited scientists in Sweden in a number of categories. The Deparment of Ecology and Genetics have several scientists in the top 100 i multiple categories, for instance is Professor Hans Ellegren in the top-10 in the category "Medicine and Life Science" and professor Lars Tranvik is in the top-10 in the category "Environmental science and green biology".
Anna Qvarnström interviewed about a new forum for research infrastructure
Relevant research infrastructure is crucial for being able to collect, process and access data. But advanced technology is expensive and then there is the question of who should bear the costs. “It’s an urgent issue," says Anna Qvarnström, Deputy Dean of Research for the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology.
New evolutionary insights into the early development of songbirds
An international team led by Alexander Suh at Uppsala University has sequenced a chromosome in zebra finches called the germline-restricted chromosome (GRC). This chromosome is only found in germline cells, the cells that hold genetic information which is passed on to the next generation. The researchers found that the GRC is tens of millions of years old and plays a key role in songbird biology, having collected genes used for embryonic development.
A genetic tug-of-war between the sexes begets variation
In species with sexual reproduction, no two individuals are alike and scientists have long struggled to understand why there is so much genetic variation. In a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of researchers from the University of Uppsala in Sweden now show that a genetic tug-of-war between the sexes acts to maintain variation.
Three PhD student positions and one post-doctoral position in biogeochemistry/microbial ecology
This year's von Hofsten lecture
Lyssna på forskarpodden med Per Alström
Kartläggning av Amazonas palmer är klar
Under tjugo års tid har forskare vid bland annat Uppsala universitet undersökt palmer i Amazonas. Palmplantor på nästan 550 olika platser har undersökts. Det här är en viktig kartläggning för att förstå hur den biologiska mångfalden utvecklats i tropiska ekosystem, och vad som krävs för att bevara den. Arbetet presenteras i en ny studie som publiceras i tidskriften Ecology.
Dagvattendammar kan gynna biologisk mångfald
Anlagda dagvattendammar i Uppsala stad har en oväntat hög biologisk mångfald. En studie som nu presenteras visar att hela 61 procent av alla trollsländearter som finns i Uppland, varav flera är relativt sällsynta i Sverige, också finns i dammarna. Det visar en undersökning utförd av forskare vid Uppsala universitet.
Intervju med Hans Ellegren
”Våra växter och djur är ganska robusta”
Man kan inte vara bäst på allt. En växt kan synas och dofta mycket för att bli pollinerad, eller hålla en lägre profil för att slippa bli uppäten av växtätare. En ny forskningsstudie publicerad i Science bekräftar att växter är mästare på att anpassa sig. Snabbt kan det gå också.
Paddor i lantliga områden drabbas oftare av sjukdomsalstrande parasitsvamp
Paddor i lantliga miljöer drabbas oftare av parasitsvampen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis än paddor i mer urbana miljöer. Det visar en ny studie som forskare vid Uppsala universitet och SLU publicerat i den vetenskapliga tidskriften Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. Forskarna visar också att paddor som delar damm med åkergrodor löper ökad risk att drabbas av svampinfektion.
Origin of Scandinavian wolves clarified
There are no signs that hybrids of dog and wolf have contributed to the Scandinavian wolf population – a matter that has been discussed, especially in Norway. These wolves appear to have originated from the Nordic region or adjacent parts of Northern Europe, new genetic research from Uppsala University shows.
Lars Tranvik chosen to be Wallenberg Scholar
Professor Lars Tranvik is one of 22 chosen scientists to be a 2019 Wallenberg Scholar. It entails a five-year grant of 18 million crowns to conduct free research.
Meet IEG at Scifest!
Kartläggning av järvens arvsmassa visar på låg genetisk variation
Genetiska analyser har länge varit en viktig del av övervakningen av skandinaviska rovdjur. Forskare vid institutionen för ekologi och genetik har kartlagt hela arvsmassan hos järv och visat att den skandinaviska stammen har låg grad av genetisk variation. Variationen var på liknande låga nivå som vissa kraftigt hotade arter. Forskarna kunde också visa att storleken på populationen haft en nedåtgående trend under mycket lång tid.
Postdoctoral researcher position in Plant Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
Global uppvärmning kan göra tusentals svenska sjöar isfria om vintern
Ny forskning visar att ungefär 35 300 sjöar på norra halvklotet skulle bli isfria hela året om den globala medeltemperaturen ökar med 2 grader. I Sverige blir tusentals sjöar helt isfria om uppvärmningen når över 3 grader. Forskare från bland annat Uppsala universitet har arbetat med studien, som nu presenteras i tidskriften Nature Climate Change.
Decreasing snow cover causes increasing methane production in frozen lakes
New, unexpected consequences of climate change keep presenting themselves. A new study from Uppsala University and SLU shows that a decreased snow cover on frozen lakes in boreal forests may inhibit the activity of methane degrading bacteria beneath the ice, thereby causing an increased net production of methane, a powerful greenhouse greenhouse gas.
Conference: "Unifying Concepts Pertaining to Organic Matter Reactivity Across Soil, Freshwater and Marine Systems"
EOS article highlight research on organic particles
Historical genomes reveal recent changes in genetic health of eastern gorillas
The critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla has recently lost genetic diversity and has experienced an increase in harmful mutations. These conclusions were reached by an international team of researchers who sequenced eleven genomes from eastern gorilla specimens collected up to 100 years ago, and compared these with genomes from present-day individuals. The results are now published in Current Biology.
How many species of Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler are there?
Hundreds of babblers’ DNA analysed
Using DNA sequences for 402 of the 452 species of the world’s “babblers”, an international team from China, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and the USA have analysed the evolutionary relationships among these species. Many of these species have not previously been studied using genetic methods, and this is by far the most comprehensive analysis of this group of birds to date.
Blå kortvinge är inte bara en fågelart
Fågeln blå kortvinge (Brachypteryx montana) har hittills betraktats som en art. Nu har en internationell forskargrupp, ledd från Uppsala universitet, studerat de kontinentala och taiwanesiska populationerna och upptäckt att de tre underarter som finns i de områdena, i själva verket är tre helt olika arter.
Art och miljö påverkar vilka grodor som drabbas av parasitsvamp
En vattenlevande parasitsvamp orsakar livshotande infektioner hos groddjur och anses vara en av anledningarna till att antalet grodor minskar globalt. I en ny studie visar forskare från Uppsala universitet att antalet infektioner varierar stort mellan olika arter och att den omkringliggande miljön påverkar.
Anna Qvarnström new vice dean of research
Tenure Track Position as Associate Senior Lecturer in Plant Evolutionary Genomics
Professor Lars Tranvik awarded prize for research in freshwater ecology
Gravida kantnålshanar överger äggen om de hittar en snyggare hona
Hos kantnålsfiskar blir hanarna gravida, förser ungarna med näring och syre och avslutar det hela med en levandefödsel. Men de är knappast några mönsterpappor. I en ny studie visar svenska och portugisiska forskare att om hanen träffar en hona han gillar bättre än den han är gravid med gör han sig av med äggen eller förkortar graviditeten för att snabbare kunna para sig med den nya.
Professor Lars Tranvik awarded medal for outstanding scientific contributions to limnology
Genomanalys visar att amfibiedödande parasitsvamp spreds från Asien
Parasitsvampen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis orsakar en livshotande infektion hos amfibier och anses vara en av orsakerna till att antalet amfibier minskar globalt. I en ny studie publicerad i Science har forskare från hela världen, bland annat från Uppsala universitet, samarbetat för att hitta källan till parasiten. En stam från Koreahalvön har identifierats som en ursprungsstam för parasiten, som började spridas i början på 1900-talet när den globala handeln med amfibier startade.
Molecular controls on organic matter decomposition in lakes: new insights
Hans Ellegren’s podcast on Radioscience about evolution and academic leadership
Hear Hans Ellegren’s podcast on Radioscience about evolution and academic leadership. Link here
Hans Ellegrens podd på Radioscience om evolution och akademiskt ledarskap
Hans Ellegren appointed Vice President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Professor Hans Ellegren at the Department of Ecology and Genetics has been appointed Vice President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA).
Uppsala university ranked top 7 for Evolutionary Biology
Strong ranking for Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University. Only two subjects at Uppsala University within top 10 Universities in the ranking of research and education. Read more about the ranking at http://cwur.org/2017/subjects.php#Evolutionary%20Biology
Organic matter composition found to be critical factor in mercury methylation
The biological formation of neurotoxic methyl mercury is an enigmatic process underpinning mercury-related health and environmental hazards. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms and the factors controlling the process are still not well understood.
Climate change affects evolution of collared flycatcher
2017-01-26In a new study, researchers at Uppsala University have found evidence of that climate change upends selection of face characteristics in the collared flycatcher. During the study the annual fitness selection on forehead patch size switched from positive to negative, a reversal that is accounted for by rising spring temperatures at the breeding site.
Hans Ellegren is awarded the Linnaeus medal
We congratulate Hans Ellegren to being awarded a gold medal for his research. The award citation is: Hans Ellegren is awarded for his studies of evolutionary processes which govern the development of life. How do new species arise? What is the genetic background to the barriers that stop some closely related species from reproducing with each other? Ellegren has among other things mapped the whole genome of two different species of flycatchers to answer these questions. His findings have had a large international impact and they are published in the most prestigious scientific journals.
More vegetarian food for warm tadpoles
Of the many ecological questions unfolded by climate change, the potential influence of temperature on the feeding preferences of organisms is currently gathering a great deal of attention in the scientific community. In a new study, published in the journal Ecology, researchers show that three species of tadpoles generally increased herbivory under simulated heat wave scenarios.
Eat, escape, love: the price of looking sexy
In the animal kingdom colourful traits can be both a blessing and a curse. A new study from a group of researchers at Uppsala University has studied the conspicuous wing colouration of two species of damselflies. Their results imply that males, but not females, pay a high cost when using colour to communicate with other damselflies, both in terms of predation risk and visibility to prey.
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