Bridge the gap between micro- and macroevolution - applying genetic and epigenetic approaches to understand speciation.
An ultimate effect of phenotypic change is speciation, which represents the branching of "the three of life". We would like to understand the mechanistic basis (genetic and epigenetic; cf. objective 3) as well as the phenotypic consequence leading to post-zygotic barriers, and subsequently possible speciation, across eukaryote lineages (cf. objective 2). Hence, genetic and epigenetic approaches are combined with ecological and evolutionary thinking to understand diversification processes of life (related to objective 1 and 2). We have established the genus Arabidopsis and Passer sparrows as excellent model systems for addressing the underlying processes of phenotypic evolution and speciation. Genetic (developmental) incompatibilities that reduce gene flow between taxa (hybrid fertility and viability) and traits reducing the probability of hybridization (timing of breeding, habitat and mating preference) are important in both systems. Aspects of our research focus on the transition between microevolutionary change and macroevolutionary patterns.