Disputation: Christine Syrowatka

PhD candidate Christine Syrowatka at the Department of Biosciences will be defending the thesis "Evolvability and Robustness: A Paradox in Evolutionary Theory" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Profile picture of Christine Syrowatka

Christine Syrowatka

The disputation will be live streamed using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: The chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking "Participants" followed by clicking "Raise hand". 

The meeting opens for participation just before 1.15 PM, and closes for new participants approximately 15 minutes after the defense has begun.

Trial lecture 

"How do genomics, deep phenomics and gene editing open for a deeper understanding of the genotype-phenotype map?"

Main research findings

Research in evolutionary biology is driven by curiosity about the evolution of complex organisms. Their origin and maintenance depend on two conflicting properties - evolvability and robustness. Evolvability is the ability to generate new potentially adaptive phenotypes, while robustness is the ability to maintain the same phenotype. This creates a paradox for the evolution of complex organisms.


The relationship between evolvability and robustness is determined by the structure and topology of the genotype-phenotype map. The genotype-phenotype map is a metaphor for a set of theoretical rules that define how genetic variation translates into phenotypic variation and is essential to understand phenotypic evolution. In her doctoral thesis, Christine Syrowatka developed two different mathematical models to study the impact of the structure of the genotype-phenotype map onto the relationship between evolvability and robustness. These two models allow us to explore two different types of genotype-phenotype maps that are on different measurement scales. She concluded that the relationship between evolvability and robustness depends on the underlying mechanisms that shape the topology of the genotype-phenotype map. Finally, she completes her argument by introducing a statistical method to study developmental variation that is central to gain insight into the mechanisms that structure the genotype-phenotype map.


Department of Biosciences

Published Nov. 25, 2020 1:05 PM - Last modified Feb. 4, 2022 3:55 PM