Genomic and Evolutionary Biology Synthesis

Colloquium 2. Main activity: Year 2010-2013

Background

The heyday of genomics has revealed that the genetics underlying most phenotypic traits are extremely complex, including numerous genes and regulatory networks. With increased understanding of individual responses to environmental variation through phenomena like genetic redundancy, epigenetic effects and phenotypic plasticity, it has become evident that when it comes to genotype-phenotype relationships the total is not necessarily equal to the sum of its parts.

Despite the great progress achieved using molecular markers and the impact genomics has had on QTL mapping, the field of evolutionary (including population genetics and quantitative genetics) and molecular genetics still remain separate fields. A fact that is reflected not least in the lack of coherence of terminology; identical terms, like epistasis, are used in both fields, but in conceptually very different senses. Generally, molecular geneticists focus on molecular mechanisms at the individual level, while evolutionary geneticists essentially describe statistical relationships at the population level. This discrepancy is a huge obstacle we need to overcome in order to establish a conceptual common base for understanding genotype-phenotype relationships. Additional challenges are to implement molecular discoveries into evolutionary genetics and ecological and evolutionary perspectives into molecular studies.

Summary of focus

The goal is to facilitate interactions between the knowledge-base of molecular sciences, particularly genomics-related research, and classical evolutionary theory. A separate goal is to catalyse the use of genomic approaches to address ecological and evolutionary questions. The Colloquium 2 activities are organized through multiple fora, such as seminars, reading groups/journal clubs, and informal activities, in addition to ongoing research projects.

Accomplishments

  1. Establishment of Norwegian Sequencing Centre
  2. Arranged a number of “Late Lunch Talks” focused on genomics where scientists (often younger researchers) presented their work or specific issues of interest. A particular theme was  bioinformatics; how are we going to meet the strong needs here at CEES in the future?
  3. “Concept Hat” and a one-day discussion around Colloquium 2 themes at the “Young Researchers’ Day”
  4. Reading groups/journal clubs; “The Philosophy of Science” and “Epigenetics and transgenerational inheritance” were also arranged.

See more details in the 2011 CEES Annual Report (pdf).

Associated Projects

Closing Seminar

Early 2013 at The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo - More details to follow

 

Published Nov. 27, 2012 11:02 AM - Last modified Aug. 15, 2014 11:30 AM