From Genome to Phenome in a Stressful World:
Epigentic regulatory mechanisms of thermal plasticity in Drosophilia
Our research goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of how epigenetic regulation contributes to physiological acclimation and evolutionary adaptation to temperature.
Phenoypic plasticity is ubiquitous across the tree of life and plays a fundamental role in allowing organisms to optimize their phenotypes in the face of variable environmental conditions, but the molecular mechanisms linking environmental signals to their phenotypic outcomes are not well understood.
Investigating the molecular mechanisms of thermal plasticity across the genus Drosophila will make it possible to address long-standing hypotheses concerning the drivers of plasticity, and investigate the ecological and evolutionary role of plasticity in promoting organismal resilience in the face of rapid, progressive shifts in climate.
Deciphering how plasticity is generated and employed in a model system such as Drosophila is likely to be an important tool for understanding this process across the insects more generally. Insects are the most ecologically successful and species rich groups of terrestrial animals on the planet. They play critical ecological roles world-wide as herbivores, predators, seed dispersers, and pollinators, and our ability to understand how they respond to changes in the environment is intricately linked to public health and the strength and prosperity our agricultural, economic, and political systems.