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The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Paul B. Rainey

Exploring the limits of evolutionary forecasting

Paul B. Rainey
Department of Microbial Population Biology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany and Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI ParisTech), PSL Research University, Paris, France

The repeatability of molecular evolution in both laboratory and wild populations gives reason to believe that evolution follows certain rules. Work with experimental bacterial populations shows that the genotype-to-phenotype map (defined by the functional and regulatory interactions among genes and gene products) provides basis for predicting evolutionary change. This is primarily through effects on the capacity of loci to translate mutation into phenotypic variation. I will describe recent work that attempts to ascertain the limits on bottom-up evolutionary forecasting. It begins with mathematical descriptions of three regulatory pathways that underpin evolution of the “wrinkly spreader” (WS) phenotype. The models predict the likelihood that evolution follows each of the pathways and the expected mutational targets.

I will then describe experimental studies that test key predictions. I will conclude on a mix of optimism and caution: optimism from the fact that evolutionary change can be forecast, but caution because of current inability to a priori predict locus-specific mutational and fitness effects.

PhD-candidates of the Department of Biomedicine will have a chance for an intimate discussion round at lunch: Meet-the-speaker lunch

Chairperson: Nils Halberg, Department of Biomedicine