Organisms undergo a series of complex changes to mature. Things are made more complex by individuals having to account for the environment when making these developmental decisions. We currently know very little about the mechanisms behind these decisions, which limits our understanding about how selection can shape these decisions and how plasticity evolved. Our goal is to try and interconnect the ecology that an individual experiences with genetic responses to better understand the evolution of plasticity.
We can make these crazy connections because of the amazing ecological and evolutionary work done by so many researchers on the Australian black filed cricket and because we’ve developed a gene expression library for this lovely animal. We’ve shown that the different life-history, morphological, behavioural and reproductive changes that are associated with the different developmental strategies that the sexes show are correlated with specific genetic changes. This is so exiting as it now allows us to explore how genes are passed on and how the environment modifies the heritability of these relationships. Awesome!
Researchers involved: Michael Kasumovic, Zhiliang Chen, and Marc Wilkins
This project is funded by an ARC Discovery project.