Evolution 2013 Recap

Lichen en route to Mt. BaldyAs we all slowly trickle back from the recent SSE meeting in Snowbird, we’ll each be posting our own thoughts and summaries of the conference. I personally had a fantastic time, met a lot of great people, and saw a lot of great talks.  I’ll highlight a few of the main points from my favorites below.  This was also the first conference I have been to while a member of Twitter, and it was great being able to look at the updates from other talks I wasn’t able to attend due to concurrent sessions.  If you missed that, check out the #Evol2013 hashtag!

Sam Scheiner gave a talk on coevolutionary dynamics and the evolution of phenotypic plasticity discussing when you get adaptation via genetic differentiation or plasticity where there was shown to be more plasticity with stronger abiotic selection, and especially with higher migration as individuals move among different environments.

Graham Coop and his lab gave some excellent talks.  I was able to attend Graham’s on the coalescence with soft sweeps, Jeremy Berg’s on detecting the signal of selection on polygenic traits, Gideon Bradburd’s on using BEDASSLE to distinguish effects of geographic and ecological isolation on differentiation, and Yaniv Brandvain’s on Mimulus speciation. A lot of great science coming from this group.

Aneil Agrawal discussed spatial and temporal effects on  diversity in flies, with one point finding increased inbreeding depression for populations in heterogeneous environments.

Zoe Assaf showed how highly deleterious alleles can hitchhike with adaptive loci when they are recessive, causing selective sweeps to take longer until recombination is able to break apart the combination, resulting what is termed a staggered sweep.

James Baldwin-Brown showed how it may be better to detect QTLs under selection by evolving and resequencing populations. A useful point due to the false positives that crop up in many methods, and can be quite powerful with more founding haplotypes and many replicates.

All three plenary addresses were also fantastic. Rich Lenski, Dolph Schluter, and Jack Sullivan discussed very cool science with plentiful humor. From E. coli to sticklebacks to chipmunks, with some dark matter analogies thrown in there, I learned a great deal on all fronts.

There were too many great talks for me to list them all, and there were many concurrent talks I wish I could have made, so feel free to mention your thoughts or favorites and keep your eyes open for the rest of our contributors’ thoughts on the meeting coming up soon!

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About kimgilbert

Kim Gilbert is a PhD candidate in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia, and can also be found on twitter @kj_gilbert.
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