news aggregator

May 17, 2015

22:00
Human cultural diversity is expressed in myriad ways (from social and marital norms to languages and religious practices), but what factors shape this diversity? Dating back to Darwin, multiple disciplines have debated the degree to which cultural diversity patterns are influenced by different factors, including history, demographics, and ecology. Over recent years an emerging set of studies have showcased how phylogenetic comparative methods from evolutionary biology can help resolve these long-held debates and revolutionize the field of cultural evolution. Now the major barrier to advances lies in the location of necessary data, which are spread across multiple disparate sources in linguistics, biogeography and anthropology. To overcome this challenge we will create D-PLACE (a Database of Phylogenies of Languages for the study of Cultural Evolution), a publicly available and expandable web-portal that will map over 100 cultural features onto language phylogenies and link these to ecological and environmental variables, empowering a whole new line of investigation into the drivers of cultural change and patterns of cultural diversity. We will produce a paper to introduce D-PLACE and outline the many types of questions in comparative anthropology the database can answer. Finally, we will demonstrate the power of this new resource by using D-PLACE to examine two long-standing and fundamental questions from comparative anthropology: (i) What drives the diversity of incest taboos (i.e. how human societies regulate who can mate and marry)? (ii) Can we characterize recurrent “human niches”, or are societies just arbitrary bundles of cultural features?
Source: NESCent
22:00
Baker’s Law (hereafter BL) states that self-compatible organisms are more likely to be successful colonizers after long-distance dispersal than self-incompatible organisms. This simple prediction draws a link between mating-system evolution and diverse fields of ecology and evolution such as dispersal biology and colonization, the evolution of range size and range limits, demography and Allee effect, and invasion biology. However, after >60 years of experimental research and theory development, the accumulated data yield varying, and often contradictory, support of BL. Our working group brings together a diverse array of researchers to assess predictions and assumptions of BL and elucidate ecological, evolutionary, and demographic parameters likely to determine the relationships between mating system, dispersal, and colonization success. To accomplish these goals we will: 1) Compile the voluminous literature on BL. 2) Link the BL data with two extensive databases gathered by prior NESCent support (seed germination and seed traits data; mating system data) and a NCEAS pollen limitation database. These expanded databases will include dispersal, range size, and life-history traits, thereby creating a powerful tool for testing various aspects of the relationship between mating-system and colonization success. 3) Employ macroevolutionary tools to map mating-system and dispersal traits onto the angiosperm phylogeny to assess evolutionary patterns and phylogenetically-corrected trait correlations. 4) Formalize BL using current population genetic theory and dispersal theory. Synthetic products of our working group should elucidate the links between dispersal and mating-system in colonization success, and will influence multiple fields of research in evolution for the foreseeable future.
Source: NESCent

May 6, 2015

22:00
Primates are highly charismatic and often serve as flagship species in conservation efforts. They are also the closest living relatives of humans, and therefore hold the keys to resolving many questions about human evolution and ecology. However, the slow life histories of primates, combined with their complex social systems, their behavioral plasticity, and the challenging field conditions in which primate researchers must work, have severely limited analyses of mortality and fertility in wild, unprovisioned primate populations. This in turn limits comparative analyses that can shed light on the population dynamics and the social and ecological adaptations that have shaped both human and nonhuman primate evolution. We propose a Primate Life Histories Working Group to compare mortality and fertility schedules across taxa, to evaluate a set of hypotheses about the roles that phylogeny, ecology, and behavior play in shaping primate mortality and fertility patterns, and to examine whether life history theory predicts which vital rates are most variable across species. Using unique, individual-based life history data that have been collected from wild populations by nine working group participants over a minimum of 19 years, we will develop age-specific mortality and fertility schedules and create population projection matrices for each species. Our immediate goals are to test current hypotheses about the evolution of life histories in order to advance our understanding of primate evolution. Our longer-term goal is to move toward a collaborative, shared databank allowing analyses of irreplaceable life history data on wild primates.
Source: NESCent

April 28, 2015

22:00
A number of independent efforts have compiled global plant databases on functionally important traits of leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. These databases are comprised of 1000's to tens of 1000's of species. With a few notable exceptions, they have not been analyzed in an evolutionary or phylogenetic context. However, when synthesized with a modern molecular phylogeny, these data could tell a comprehensive, multivariate story of the evolution of plant functional diversity. In this working group, we will merge multiple databases to explore the rate (tempo, sensu GG Simpson) of evolution of these traits and the best fit evolutionary model(s) (mode) underlying the trait diversification of land plants. We will ask 1. whether important divergences in trait space occurred along similar branches for different traits, 2. whether there were periods of evolution when trait diversification was especially rapid, and 3. whether there were interactions between trait evolution and rates of speciation and extinction. This work will lead to a new community resource of great interest—an internally synced trait matrix—matched with the current state-of-the-art phylogeny. These data can then be synthesized with fossil evidence to explore whether the tempo and mode of trait evolution in extant and extinct taxa provide similar stories. Furthermore, these data will provide a powerful view into the coordinated (or lack thereof) evolution of ecologically important traits across vascular plants—one of the most diverse and important lineages in the world today.
Source: NESCent

April 23, 2015

22:00
The identification and explanation of long-term evolutionary trends in higher taxa and biological communities is an important goal of biological research. Body size is the single most important ecological characteristic of metazoa and the variable most easily applied to analysis of evolutionary trends across distantly related taxa. The proposed working group will bring together paleobiologists studying body size evolution in deep time and across higher taxa with biologists studying the distribution of body sizes in living organisms from the community to global scale. The working group will initiate a community-wide database of body sizes through the Phanerozoic, an effort that requires standardized data on body size across higher taxa. The working group will also catalyze collaborations between paleobiologists and biologists to develop the theory necessary to investigate long-term dynamics in body-size evolution across diverse living and extinct metazoan lineages. The workshop will provide a venue for members to address the relationships between the pattern of body size evolution and the distribution of body sizes in extant organisms. How well can macroevolutionary patterns be inferred from macroecological ones? How well do those patterns reflect evolutionary mechanisms, whether driven or passive? Ultimately, the resulting database will become a broadly applicable and dynamic resource for macroevolutionary research, with real potential to help future workers shed light on the forces that have shaped the evolutionary trajectory of animal life on Earth.
Source: NESCent

April 12, 2015

22:00
Although the Indian and Pacific Oceans (hereafter Indo-Pacific) have long been recognized as containing the majority of marine biodiversity, their vastness poses substantial challenges for empirical research. Syntheses of published data, however, can expand the geographic scope of inference. We plan to examine the recent evolution of Indo-Pacific taxa by drawing upon all available population genetic data. We have two immediate research goals: 1) compile and analyze existing datasets for multiple species using consistent and uniform methods of analysis that represent the best current practice in population genetics to better determine oceanographic and geographic features as well as biological traits correlated with population structure. These results will inform our understanding of evolutionary processes in the region and provide information directly relevant to managers and conservation organizations. We will also: 2) conduct the first large scale multispecies investigation to infer the geography of speciation among Indo-Pacific taxa that incorporates population genetic inferences, thus testing predictions of competing biogeographic hypotheses using a novel approach. These research goals are underpinned by the creation of a database that would become publicly accessible to facilitate future studies. In addition, we plan to develop a virtual collaboration space that will support international collaborations in genetic-based research, training, and education throughout the region.
Source: NESCent

March 15, 2015

February 26, 2015

22:00
Evolutionary biology is a foundational and integrative science for medicine, but few physicians or medical researchers are familiar with its most relevant principles. While undergraduate students have increasing opportunities to learn about the interface of evolution, health, and disease, most premedical students have scant room for electives in their schedules, few premed prerequisite courses incorporate evolutionary thinking, and no medical school develops these competencies. The overarching goal of this Working Group is to lay the groundwork for future endeavors by providing testable models and pathways for infusing premedical and medical education with evolutionary thinking. This Working Group, an interdisciplinary, international, and intergenerational group of physicians, scientists, educators, and students, will 1) define core competencies in evolutionary biology for physicians and other health professionals; 2) investigate the ability of current curricula to prepare health professionals to meet these standards; 3) identify “teachable moments” that provide opportunities to integrate evolutionary principles into premedical and medical curricula; 4) design model curricula and learning experiences that can advance evolutionary education for health professionals; and 5) provide open access to these resources and disseminate them. The Working Group will be supported by an Advisory Committee of senior academic leaders and stakeholders. These efforts will not be sufficient in themselves, but they will establish the intellectual platform from which educational interventions on student learning, and scientific and clinical problem solving, can be developed and tested.
Source: NESCent
22:00
Americans are far less accepting of human evolution than other realms of evolution; yet, human evolution and our common ancestry with other animals are increasingly relevant to medicine and our daily lives. We propose a NESCent working group made up of scientists, educators, and a journalist that will be devoted to enhancing communication of these health-related applications of human evolution to diverse audiences. Planned activities include discussion of methodological approaches designed to best communicate these ideas, design of teacher workshops, writing publications geared to each of these audiences, and discussion regarding collaboration with museums (in particular, the Smithsonian Institution) and zoos. In these activities, we will take a systematic scholarly approach using evidence-based methods to foster communication of principles of human evolution to these diverse audiences.
Source: NESCent

February 22, 2015

22:00
It is easily demonstrable that organisms with rapid, appropriate plastic responses to environmental change will prevail over genotypes with fixed phenotypes. It is also accepted that the general dearth of organisms successful across a wide environmental range indicates fundamental limits to or costs of plasticity. The nature of constraining factors has been broadly discussed (DeWitt et al. 1998), and numerous studies have been done to quantify them. However, a curious pattern has emerged: although hypothesized to be widespread, costs are absent more often than they are detected. The issue of costs of plasticity (CoP) lies at the intersection of a range of evolutionary and ecological questions: What are the limits to plasticity? Are CoP associated with life history tradeoffs? Are CoP expected in all environments? Does plasticity enhance invasiveness? etc. This working group will address two fundamental questions. 1) Are the expectations that costs of plasticity should be universal well-founded (i.e., the “no free lunch” principle)? Several authors have proposed that, in situations where the intensity of selection for adaptive plasticity is strong, there should be corresponding pressure to ameliorate costs. 2) Independently of the answer to the first question, Are analytical and experimental methods for detecting CoP appropriate or sufficiently sensitive? CoP have most often been studied using common garden style plasticity experiments and analyzed via van Tienderen’s (1991) multiple regression approach.
Source: NESCent

February 10, 2015

22:00
Meta-analysis is a statistical technique used for syntheses of results from numerous independent studies. Increasingly, evolutionary biologists need to perform meta-analysis in which the effects of numerous explanatory variables on a response variable of interest are considered, taking into account the evolutionary history of the species in the dataset. However, such analyses require analysis of numerous complex statistical models, and methods for such analyses have not been previously developed. Our working group is developing these methods and applying them to understand local adaptation, context-dependency, and the influence of evolutionary relationships on outcomes of symbiosis between plants and mycorrhizal fungi.
Source: NESCent

January 14, 2015

22:00
When a seed germinates determines the seasonal environment experienced by a plant throughout its life, and germination phenology is one of the very first phenotypes expressed by plants during ontogeny. As such, germination phenology is subject to extremely strong natural selection, especially during early stages of adaptation. Moreover, germination co-evolves with seed dispersal, mating system, and reproductive strategy to determine plant life cycles and demographic dynamics of plant populations. This working group will test the importance of germination adaptations in delimiting species niche and range limits, both in the past and in response to changed environments. More generally, this topic pertains to the identification of key traits associated with adaptation to environmental change, and the role that early life-stage traits and traits associated with habitat selection contribute to these dynamics. The focus on germination provides a clear and tractable system for addressing general evolutionary and ecological questions concerning the interactions between ontogeny and adaptation, trait coevolution, and the roles of habitat selection and organismal responses to their environment in niche evolution. It also will contribute tangibly to efforts to predict plant responses to environmental change. The group will compile and analyze a comprehensive data set on germination and dormancy, combined with data on niche breadth, geographic range, and life history, in order to test hypotheses concerning trait coevolution and species range limits. The group will also theoretically explore interactions between ontogeny and adaptation, theoretically model trait coevolution via habitat selection and bet hedging, and develop phenological models of integrated life histories that include germination in order to predict plant responses to environmental change.
Source: NESCent

January 13, 2015

22:00
Humans are vulnerable to a number of unique musculoskeletal maladies as a consequence of our evolutionary history. Although walking on our extended hind limbs is the hallmark adaptation characterizing our species it nevertheless makes us vulnerable to a wide range of serious joint and soft tissue problems. When viewed from an evolutionary perspective many of these medical issues become understandable and, indeed, novel methods of diagnosis and treatment can emerge. The proposed collaborative, a working group of paleoanthropologists, comparative anatomists, biomechanical engineers, and physicians will create new analytical approaches and new ways of viewing the disorders that uniquely plague our species. The results of this work include the development and implementation of a model curriculum, the creation of a website, and the publication of an edited volume. The disorders directly related to our way of walking include chronically sprained ankles, hernias, osteoporotic fractures of the hip, spine, and forearm, obstetric problems, knee problems, foot disorders, fatigue fractures, and many others. By understanding how our anatomy changed in order to walk upright, and why these changes occurred, we gain a better understanding of why these adaptations sometimes go awry resulting in disorders and pain.
Source: NESCent

December 21, 2014

16:30

Here are five more tattoos in our compilation of evolutionary tree tattoos from around the internet. For more examples of this circular design for a phylogenetic tree, in a variety of body locations, see Tattoo Monday, Tattoo Monday V, and Tattoo Monday VII.


05:00
Background: Snails species belonging to the genus Bulinus (Planorbidae) serve as intermediate host for flukes belonging to the genus Schistosoma (Digenea, Platyhelminthes). Despite its importance in the transmission of these parasites, the evolutionary history of this genus is still obscure. In the present study, we used the partial mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (cox1) gene, and the nuclear ribosomal ITS, 18S and 28S genes to investigate the haplotype diversity and phylogeny of seven Bulinus species originating from three endemic countries in Africa (Cameroon, Senegal and Egypt). Results: The cox1 region showed much more variation than the ribosomal markers within Bulinus sequences. High levels of genetic diversity were detected at all loci in the seven studied species, with clear segregation between individuals and appearance of different haplotypes, even within same species from the same locality. Sequences clustered into two lineages; (A) groups Bulinus truncatus, B. tropicus, B. globosus and B. umbilicatus; while (B) groups B. forskalii, B. senegalensis and B. camerunensis. Interesting patterns emerge regarding schistosome susceptibility: Bulinus species with lower genetic diversity are predicted to have higher infection prevalence than those with greater diversity in host susceptibility. Conclusion: The results reported in this study are very important since a detailed understanding of the population genetic structure of Bulinus is essential to understand the epidemiology of many schistosome parasites.
05:00
Background: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a central role in eukaryotic signal transduction. However, the GPCR component of this signalling system, at the early origins of metazoans is not fully understood. Here we aim to identify and classify GPCRs in Amphimedon queenslandica (sponge), a member of an earliest diverging metazoan lineage (Porifera). Furthermore, phylogenetic comparisons of sponge GPCRs with eumetazoan and bilaterian GPCRs will be essential to our understanding of the GPCR system at the roots of metazoan evolution. Results: We present a curated list of 220 GPCRs in the sponge genome after excluding incomplete sequences and false positives from our initial dataset of 282 predicted GPCR sequences obtained using Pfam search. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that the sponge genome contains members belonging to four of the five major GRAFS families including Glutamate (33), Rhodopsin (126), Adhesion (40) and Frizzled (3). Interestingly, the sponge Rhodopsin family sequences lack orthologous relationships with those found in eumetazoan and bilaterian lineages, since they clustered separately to form sponge specific groups in the phylogenetic analysis. This suggests that sponge Rhodopsins diverged considerably from that found in other basal metazoans. A few sponge Adhesions clustered basal to Adhesion subfamilies commonly found in most vertebrates, suggesting some Adhesion subfamilies may have diverged prior to the emergence of Bilateria. Furthermore, at least eight of the sponge Adhesion members have a hormone binding motif (HRM domain) in their N-termini, although hormones have yet to be identified in sponges. We also phylogenetically clarified that sponge has homologs of metabotropic glutamate (mGluRs) and GABA receptors. Conclusion: Our phylogenetic comparisons of sponge GPCRs with other metazoan genomes suggest that sponge contains a significantly diversified set of GPCRs. This is evident at the family/subfamily level comparisons for most GPCR families, in particular for the Rhodopsin family of GPCRs. In summary, this study provides a framework to perform future experimental and comparative studies to further verify and understand the roles of GPCRs that predates the divergence of bilaterian and eumetazoan lineages.
05:00
Background: Crop diversity managed by smallholder farmers in traditional agrosystems is the outcome of historical and current processes interacting at various spatial scales, and influenced by factors such as farming practices and environmental pressures. Only recently have studies started to consider the complexity of these processes instead of simply describing diversity for breeding purposes. A first step in that aim is to add multiple references to the collection of genetic data, including the farmers? varietal taxonomy and practices and the historical background of the crop. Results: On the basis of interview data collected in a previous study, we sampled 166 populations of durum wheat varieties in two traditional Moroccan agrosystems, in the Pre-Rif and Atlas Mountains regions. Using a common garden experiment, we detected a high phenotypic variability on traits indicative of taxonomical position and breeding status, namely spike shape and plant height. Populations often combined modern (short) with traditional-like (tall) statures, and classical durum squared spike shape (5 flowers / spikelet) with flat spike shape (3 flowers/ spikelet) representative of primitive domesticated tetraploid wheat (ssp. dicoccum). By contrast, the genetic diversity assessed using 14 microsdatellite markers was relatively limited. When compared to the genetic diversity found in a large collection of tetraploid wheat, it corresponded to free-threshing tetraploid wheat. Within Morocco, the two studied regions differed for both genetic diversity and variety names. Within regions, neither geography nor variety names nor even breeding status constituted strong barriers to gene exchange despite a few significant patterns. Conclusions: This first assessment of morphological and genetic diversity allowed pointing out some important factors that may have influenced the structure and evolutionary dynamics of durum wheat in Morocco: the significance of variety names, the occurrence of mixtures within populations, the relative strength of seed exchange between farmers and local adaptation, as well as the fate of modern varieties once they have been introduced. Further, multidisciplinary studies at different spatial scales are needed to better understand these complex agrosystems of invaluable importance for food security.
05:00
Background: Allopatric divergence across lineages can lead to post-zygotic reproductive isolation upon secondary contact and disrupt coevolution between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, promoting emergence of genetic incompatibilities. A previous F ST scan on the transcriptome of the Baltic clam Macoma balthica highlighted several genes potentially involved in mito-nuclear incompatibilities (MNIs). As proteins involved in the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHO) chain are prone to MNIs and can contribute to the maintenance of genetic barriers, the mitochondrial genomes of six Ma. balthica individuals spanning two secondary contact zones were sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq plateform. Results: The mitogenome has an approximate length of 16,806?bp and encodes 13 protein-coding genes, 2 rRNAs and 22 tRNAs, all located on the same strand. atp8, a gene long reported as rare in bivalves, was detected. It encodes 42 amino acids and is putatively expressed and functional. A large unassigned region was identified between rrnS and tRNA Met and could likely correspond to the Control Region. Replacement and synonymous mutations were mapped on the inferred secondary structure of all protein-coding genes of the OXPHO chain. The atp6 and atp8 genes were characterized by background levels of replacement mutations, relative to synonymous mutations. However, most nad genes (notably nad2 and nad5) were characterized by an elevated proportion of replacement mutations. Conclusions: Six nearly complete mitochondrial genomes were successfully assembled and annotated, providing the necessary roadmap to study MNIs at OXPHO loci. Few replacement mutations were mapped on mitochondrial-encoded ATP synthase subunits, which is in contrast with previous data on nuclear-encoded subunits. Conversely, the high population divergence and the prevalence of non-synonymous mutations at nad genes are congruent with previous observations from the nuclear transcriptome. This further suggest that MNIs between subunits of Complex I of the OXPHO chain, coding for NADH Dehydrogenase, may play a role in maintaining barriers to gene flow in Ma. balthica.
01:34

—Apple-Mail=_C7E53FFD-CE75-4A7E-8576-497C1F8E1A53 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”windows-1252” A postdoctoral position is available, for field research into the population genetics of Antirrhinum (snapdragon). The project focusses on a hybrid zone in the Pyrenees, between subspecies that differ in flower colour: plants in the hybrid population have been genotyped for major genes that determine flower pattern, and for large numbers of SNPs that allow the pedigree to be determined over multiple generations. The aim is to find why the subspecies remain distinct, and how they diverged from each other, and more generally, to use this long-term study to understand the interplay between selection and population structure in nature. This is a joint project between Nick Barton at the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria (http://bit.ly/1DXxQfq) , and Enrico Coen, at the John Innes Institute in Norwich (http://bit.ly/13qplsy). The postdoc would be based at IST; she/he would be involved in fieldwork and analysis of genetic data. The Institute of Science and Technology is a new multidisciplinary research institute, located in the Wienerwald, just outside Vienna (www.ist.ac.at). There are close links with other population genetics groups in the Vienna area (http://bit.ly/1pSDzd6). The position will be available for two years in the first instance, but with the possibility of extension; the salary scale starts at 49K p.a. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in a relevant area, with good quantitative skills, and an interest in evolutionary biology. For further details, please contact nick.barton@ist.ac.at. Applications should be sent by January 24th, and should include a CV, a statement of research interests, and names of referees. Nick Barton IST Austria Am Campus 1 Klosterneuburg 3400 ‘phone: (43)2243 9000 3001 http://bit.ly/IhoxMfwww.ist.ac.at). There are close links with other population genetics groups in the Vienna area (http://bit.ly/1pSDzd6). The position will be available for two years in the first instance, but with the possibility of extension; the salary scale starts at 49K p.a. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in a relevant area, with good quantitative skills, and an interest in evolutionary biology. For further details, please contact nick.barton@ist.ac.at. Applications should be sent by January 24th, and should include a CV, a statement of research interests, and names of referees. Nick Barton IST Austria Am Campus 1 Klosterneuburg 3400 ‘phone: (43)2243 9000 3001 http://bit.ly/IhoxMf —Apple-Mail=_C7E53FFD-CE75-4A7E-8576-497C1F8E1A53 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset=”windows-1252”

A postdoctoral position is available, for field research into the population genetics of Antirrhinum (snapdragon).  The project focusses on a hybrid zone in the Pyrenees, between subspecies that differ in flower colour: plants in the hybrid population have been genotyped for major genes that determine flower pattern, and for large numbers of SNPs that allow the pedigree to be determined over mult iple generations.  The aim is to find why the subspecies remain distinct, and how they diverged from each other, and more generally, to use this long-term study to understand the interplay between selection and population structure in nature.

This is a joint project between Nick Barton at the Institute of  Science and Technology, Austria (http://bit.ly/1DXxQfq) , and Enrico Coen, at the John Innes Institute in Norwich (http://bit.ly/13qplsy).  The postdoc would be based at IST; she/he would be involved in fieldwork and analysis of genetic data.

The Institute of Science and Technology is a new multidisciplinary research institute, located in the Wienerwald, just outside Vienna (www.ist.ac.at).  There are close links with other population genetics groups in the Vienna area (http://bit.ly/1pSDzd6).

The position will be available for two years in the first instance, but with the possibility of extension; the salary scale starts at 49K  p.a.   Applicants should have a Ph.D. in a relevant area, with good quantitative skills, and an i nterest in evolutionary biology.  For further details, please contact nick.barton@ist.ac.at.  Applications should be sent by January 24th, and should include a  CV, a statement of research interests, and names of referees.


Nick BartonIST AustriaAm Campus 1Klosterneuburg 3400'phone: (43)2243 9000 3001http://bit.ly/IhoxMf
—Apple-Mail=_C7E53FFD-CE75-4A7E-8576-497C1F8E1A5 via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
01:34

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Rosenzweig Lab, DBS Job Description A postdoctoral position is available in the Rosenzweig Lab in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana. The project, led by Matthew Herron, uses experimental evolution to explore fundamental questions in the evolution of multicellular development. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in biology or a related field and a track record of high-quality publications. Additional desirable qualifications include experience with experimental microbial evolution, molecular biology and next-generation data analysis, and the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The successful candidate will join a multi-institutional collaboration, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, whose focus is on the origin and evolution of multicellular complexity. Research partners include Michael Travisano, Mark Borrello, and Will Soto at U Minnesota; and Will Ratcliff at Georgia Tech. Funding will be available for travel to annual meetings of the research partners at U Minnesota. At U Montana, the successful candidate will join the robust and collaborative Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics Group, a diverse group of UM faculty using genetic and genomic approaches to investigate evolutionary processes in plants, animals, and microbes. Project Description: Experimental evolution of multicellularity The evolution of multicellularity was transformative in the diversity of life; virtually all life visible to the naked eye is multicellular. Life on earth would be dramatically different, and morphologically depauperate, if multicellularity had not evolved. The central question in this proposal is: Why is the evolution of multicellularity so repeatable? We have used the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to experimentally generate de novo origins of simple (undifferentiated) multicellularity in two separate experiments. The first is described in Ratcliff, W.C., Herron, M.D., Howell, K., Pentz, J.T., Rosenzweig, F. and Travisano, M. 2013. Nature Communications, 4: 2742. Current research focuses on the evolution of multicellularity in response to filter-feeding predators. Results from these experiments will be compared with those from similar experiments using other experimental organisms to address the following questions: How readily does multicellularity evolve? What is the tempo and mode in the first steps in the evolutionary transition to multicellularity? Does evolutionary ancestry substantially impact multicellular adaptability? The successful applicant will be expected to take primary responsibility for executing the evolution experiments described for this project, and for coordinating sequencing efforts. Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills and organizational abilities is required, in addition to a strong interest in evolution, and a willingness to learn new techniques. The postdoctoral associate will be expected to attend weekly lab meetings, supervise undergraduate students working on this project, present research at national and regional conferences, and to take a lead role in the data analysis and background research required for timely publication of research results. The postdoctoral position will be based at the University of Montana in beautiful Missoula, MT (halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks). Salary plus benefits are available for two years, contingent on funding and satisfactory performance in the first year. Salary is fixed at NIH scale for entry-level postdoctoral fellows. HOW TO APPLY For full consideration, applications must be submitted online by February 1, 2015. Applications received after February 1 may be considered, as the position is open until filled. Applications may be submitted online at http://bit.ly/13qn80s [posting 1123] Matthew D. Herron, PhD Division of Biological Sciences University of Montana X.princeps@gmail.com http://bit.ly/13qn8gK xprinceps@gmail.com via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR