A new Priority Programme (SPP 2349) funded by German Science Foundation (DFG), starting 2022: "Genomic Basis of Evolutionary Innovations (GEvol)"
GEvol is unique as it will use, for the first time, a large taxonomic group to focus on one goal: to characterise the dynamics and mechanisms of genomic innovations underlying novel traits using comparative evolutionary genomics (and related data).
Thus, projects participating in GEvol we will ask fundamental evolutionary questions such as:
1. At what level is evolution repeatable?
2. How does genomic plasticity interfere with phenotypic plasticity during evolution?
3. How do inter- and intra-specific interactions influence genomic architectures?
4. How predictable is phenotypic variation given some knowledge about the dynamics and mechanisms of underlying genome evolution?
Insects have been intensively studied over decades to address all major questions in biology and many insects were among the very first multi-cellular eukaryotes to be sequenced. These insect model systems – and insects as a whole group – were and are perfectly suited to reconstruct genomic events which underlie phenotypic innovations - including those that make them devastating pests or vectors. Therefore, insects as a whole, are the perfect model system to study causes and effects of genome evolution over evolutionary very long time scales (i.e. 100s of my).
Specifically, projects will investigate the modes of genomic variations, such as:
• Repetitive elements are major drivers of genomic variations
• Gene family dynamics supports specific adaptations.
• Genome structure and rearrangements impact coupling and de-coupling of traits
• Epigenetics supports rapid adaptations and affects gene regulation
• Gene regulation has strong and rapid effects on adaptability.