Short-term Visitor

The influence of genetic architecture on the effect of sex and recombination on genotypic offspring diversity

PI(s): Olav Rueppell (University of North Carolina-Greensboro)
Start Date: 25-Jan-2011
End Date: 25-Apr-2011
Keywords: computational modeling, evolutionary genetics, quantitative genetics, recombination, sociality

Explaining the predominance of sexual reproduction and genetic recombination is a fundamental problem in evolutionary biology. Genetic diversity explanations depend on the genetic architecture of fitness-related traits. Recent advances in our understanding of the genetic architecture of complex life-history traits now enable a synthesis between theoretical analyses and empirical data. I propose to evaluate the joint influences of sexual reproduction, recombination, and genetic architecture on genotypic offspring diversity and to confront the modeling results with empirical data, using social insects as a model. Some social insects, epitomized by honey bees, represent evolutionary extremes for sexual reproduction and recombination because their female reproductives are highly polyandrous and concomitantly they exhibit the highest genomic recombination rates of all metazoans. The project will evaluate the joint effects and relative contributions of multiple mating and recombination to the genotypic variability among offspring of one female, assuming different genetic architectures of the focal trait. For this purpose, I will develop a simulation model in “R” that will be made available to the public. The model will be parameterized with honey bee data, including my own studies on the genetic architecture of complex traits and recombination rates. However, the model is general and the program will be customizable to account for different chromosome numbers, offspring group sizes, and social group structures that allow for multiple reproductive females. Existing data on mating patterns, chromosome numbers, recombination rates, social structure, and the genetic architecture of fitness-related traits will be gathered from general databases and published literature across all taxa. These data will be combined into a synthetic analysis to appraise the genetic diversity hypotheses for sex and recombination and propose avenues of future integrative research.