Working Group

Building tools for emerging model systems in development, evolution, and ecology

PI(s): Scott Hodges (University of California-Santa Barbara)
Elena M Kramer (Harvard University)
Hopi E Hoekstra (Harvard University)
Start Date: 1-Mar-2008
End Date: 28-Feb-2010

The modern field of molecular developmental evolution (evo-devo) was largely founded on comparisons that were drawn among existing model species such as Drosophila (fruit fly), Caenorhabditis (nematode), Mus (mouse) and Gallus (chicken). It has recently become clear, however, that since features such as evolutionary history or ecological context were not explicitly considered when these models were selected, new systems are needed to investigate a wide range of questions that lie at the intersection of developmental, evolutionary and ecological biology. The establishment of a new model species is not trivial, however, and requires a significant investment in money and time. Many laboratories are currently engaged in this challenging process, for both plants and animals. The goal of the proposed working group is to facilitate the progression of these “emerging model systems” in a number of ways. First, participants will work with GMOD/NESCent personnel to gain a better understanding of how to build and improve databases for their organisms. This process will also create a forum for the conception of new GMOD tools. Second, the working group will develop a proposal for the NSF Research Coordination Network program. The primary aim of this RCN will be to foster cross-disciplinary interactions among researchers working within specific model systems as well as between such communities. The diverse make-up of the working group will facilitate the exchange of new ideas and techniques and create a larger support network that will further the development of a broad array of new model species.