Catalysis Meeting

Domestication as an evolutionary phenomenon: expanding the synthesis

PI(s): Greger Larson (Durham University)
Michael Purugganan (New York University)
Dolores Piperno (National Museum of Natural History)
Robin Allaby (University of Warwick)
Dorian Fuller (University College-London)
Start Date: 1-Apr-2010
End Date: 31-Mar-2011

Ever since Darwin's recognition of the value of domestication as a model of evolution, research on plant and animal domesticates has initiated revolutionary advances in the biological sciences. Molecular biologists, geneticists, and archaeobiologists are currently intensively engaged with various aspects of domestication, documenting the DNA sequence and gene expression changes that underlie the transformation of wild into domesticated phenotypes on the one hand, and (re-)evaluating the geography, tempo, and timing of the process on the other. Crop and livestock species are also serving as model systems for research efforts including the sequencing of entire genomes and applications of evolutionary ecology to prehistoric human behavior. Furthermore, the integration of formerly separated fields such as developmental and evolutionary biology together with a consideration of the roles of epistasis, epigenetics, and the external environment are generating novel data and insights about how domestication occurs that have thus far been missing from gene-centered approaches. It is clear that this substantial corpus of information invites a new consideration of domestication using a broader framework that includes perspectives from all of the participating disciplines and sub-disciplines of evolutionary biology and archaeology.
The purpose of this symposium is to establish a framework for a new evolutionary synthesis of domestication and to generate novel research questions and collaborations relating to the origins and understanding of essential crops, livestock, and pets. We will accomplish this by bringing together plant and animal experts from emerging fields such as evolutionary development, phenotypic plasticity, systems biology, and complexity, as well as genetics, archaeology, and evolutionary biology.