26 June 2010

#evol2010 day 1: In which chromosomes invert and sources sink

ResearchBlogging.orgThe first day at Evolution 2010 has been a great one. The location in Portland is proving to be great in stereotypical ways: great beer from Rogue Ales, conference t-shirts by American Apparel. There's pretty good chatter on Twitter this year under the hashtag #evol2010, and in a first for Evolution meeting coverage, there will be daily wrap-up audiocasts (in which I'll be participating) at the blog Evolution, Development, and Genomics.

Amusingly, we're sharing the Oregon Convention Center with a "Christian" homeschooling conference, but so far this has led to neither disruptions nor learning experiences.

Some highlights of the talks I've attended so far:
  • Jeffrey Feder proposed a new means by which chromosomal inversions might evolve, via a period of allopatric population isolation that allows a locally adaptive inversion to spread, followed by secondary contact during which gene flow creates selective pressure to reduce recombination that could break up the inversion.
  • Simone Des Roches presented new evidence that three lizard species, which have colonized a region of white sand in the New Mexican desert and subsequently evolved "blanched" coloration [PDF], are experiencing ecological release and density compensation. (Simone and her labmate Kayla Hardwick recently discussed their work in blog format.)
  • Chelsea Berns demonstrated that, alone among North American temperate hummingbirds, Ruby-throated hummingbird males have differently-shaped bills from Ruby-throated females.
  • Joel Sachs described the natural frequency and origins of rhizobial bacteria that "cheat" on their host plants.
  • Sheina Sim described host shifts in the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella: the fly originally shifted from its native host, hawthorn, to domestic apples [PDF] when they were introduced to North America—now the fly has been introduced to the Pacific Northwest via transport of apples, and some populations have shifted back to hawthorns.
  • The American Society of Naturalists Vice Presidential symposium presented a large volume of work towards discovering the reasons for species' range boundaries, including great syntheses of population genetic and experimental data for the wildflowers Mimulus cardinalis and Clarkia xantiana—one emerging theme is the importance of the balance of gene flow from healthy populations in the center of ranges to poorly-adapted populations at the edges.
Update, 1950h: The first Evolution 2010 audiocast is now live for download here.

Primary literature referenced

Feder, J., Chilcote, C., & Bush, G. (1988). Genetic differentiation between sympatric host races of the apple maggot fly Rhagoletis pomonella. Nature, 336 (6194), 61-64 DOI: 10.1038/336061a0

Rosenblum, E. (2006). Convergent evolution and divergent selection: lizards at the White Sands ecotone. The American Naturalist, 167 (1), 1-15 DOI: 10.1086/498397

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