Evolutionary biology of sex differences

We study sex, bugs and genetic conflicts.

In our lab we are interested in how sexual and natural selection shape sex differences and what are their genetic underpinnings. Evolution of sexual dimorphism is puzzling because although the sexes commonly experience divergent selection pressures, their independent response to selection is constrained by the largely shared genome. We address the long-standing question of how sex differences in the genetic architecture of shared traits can evolve by using laboratory evolution, quantitative genetic and transcriptomic techniques. By testing several theoretical predictions of what it takes to evolve sexual dimorphism, we hope to get more insights into the question of how to resolve the intra-locus sexual conflict and where in the genome the resolution lurks.

We also study life-history and behavioural evolution in the sexes across phylogeny, as well as within species by using experimental evolution.

All of our current work utilises seed beetle species as model organisms. They are not cute, but you quickly learn to love what’s in the inside. Seed beetles are small and handy animals, who love to live with humans that cultivate food for their babies, bean seeds. So they feel right at home in the lab environment. They mainly just care about having sex and don’t even get hard feelings if you sometimes drop them on the floor or pinch a bit too hard from the belly. And they even have personalities –  some are more explorative and active than others, which is another thing we are curious to understand better.

 

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