Evolvability Seminar - Integration, Modularity, and Evolvability of Flowers
The genetic architecture of organisms, as captured in the G-matrix (genetic variances and covariances of phenotypic traits), is expected to influence the rate and direction of evolutionary response to natural selection. We can also expect the genetic architecture itself to evolve in ways that increase fitness. However, few studies to date have been able to connect patterns of genetic and phenotypic variance and covariance to the adaptive functions of traits and to both micro- and macro-evolutionary change.
I will discuss genetic, phenotypic, and functional studies of the flowers of Dalechampia vines (Euphorbiaceae) in order to address questions about integration, modularity, evolvability, and adaptive accuracy of flowers in relation to selection generated by pollinators. Among other things, I explore how 1) genetic and phenotypic correlations interact with selection generated by pollinator preference and flower-pollinator fit, 2) how environmental canalisation and modularity can break up maladaptive correlations, 3) what components of adaptive inaccuracy reveal about conflicting selection vs. developmental constraint as sources of phenotypic load, and 4) whether population measures of evolvability can predict trajectories of micro- and macro-evolutionary change.
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