Live from #Evol2016 – highlights from Saturday and what to see on Sunday June 19th

The Molecular Ecologist team is all over this year’s Evolution meeting in Austin, Texas.

As part of our coverage of the meeting, we will be previewing presentations we’re excited about and recapping the highlights of each day here on the blog.

You can find all of the TME contributors on Twitter using the sidebar on the right or compiled in a handy Twitter list here. Follow along with all meeting news using the hashtag #Evol2016.

Highlights from Saturday, June 18th


Longfei Shu and Tamara Haselkorn had back-to-back talks about a social amoeba that “farms” edible bacteria with the assistance of a symbiotic Burkholderia species. The natural history is“>very cool.

Mark Kirkpatrick presented data from humans and Drosophila showing that genes with moderate differences in expression in males and females are very slightly differentiated at the sequence level — suggesting there’s some subtle sexually antagonistic selection acting on them.

Moises Exposito-Alonso on drought resistance with the 1001 Genomes of Arabidopsis — every bit as interesting as expected. Some clever high-throughput phenotyping to assess drought resistance, good use of huge genomic resources.


Eric Watson “Comparative mitogenomics reveals extreme population differentiation and armless tRNAs in Tigriopus californicus.” Despite intraspecific mitogenome nucleotide divergences of over 20%, patterns of selection in T. californicus mirror those in species with more “reasonable” genetic divergence.


David Toews detailed the long history of genetically discriminating between Blue-Winged and Golden-Winged Warblers: two hybridizing birds that differ drastically in coloration but have until now been largely indistinguishable via nuclear DNA. The largest genome-scale data to date finally shows some areas of high differentiation — loci that are conveniently associated with color phenotype in other taxa. 

Michael Landis married biogeographic history with dating phylogenetic divergence in a beautiful talk. Informing trees with paleogeography can improve divergence time estimates when fossil records are shaky.

Becca Zufall showed that amitosis actually slows mutation accumulation down in Ciliates — a process that may approximate the effects of recombination and account for some of the success of certain asexuals.


Rob’s talk on genome stealing.

Zufall’s talk on ciliates in which amitosis slows Muller’s Ratchet. Because these ciliates need to undergo about 100 asexual divisions before they can undergo sex, they accumlate quite a few mutations that are then exposed following sex. So, doing some asexual reproduction is actually pretty perfect … and explains asexual persistence.

Bartkowska’s talk on clonal lineages in duck weed and the fact that current theory really can’t deal with any deviations from Fisher-Wright population dynamics. This is the story of my life.

Robinson’s talk on bedbugs and mitochondrial heteroplasmy. They found 1 bed bug with at least 5 different mt haplotypes! He had the best line of that I saw today, the unicorn of mitochondrial recombination. And he made a point about basic biology and combining different marker sets. Something that is kind of a no-brainer, but something that I find is easily overlooked in an age of reams of molecular data!

Dlugosch gave an awesome talk about linking genotype to phenotype to the actual consequences for populations.

Finally, Sean Narum gave a cool talk on two salomnid species introduced to Patagonia. Life history drove the patterns in genetic variation that they saw between chinook salmon and brook charr.

What our contributors are excited about for Sunday, June 19th


Chris Willett and Thiago Lima: Local adaptation to fluctuating and extreme temperatures and gene regulation in Tigriopus californicus (8:30 MR9C) — My postdoc work with Morgan Kelly focuses on responses to salinity stress in tigs so I’m excited to see an adaptation talk on my study species.


Christopher Muir: What is evolutionary physiology? (8:30am, Ballroom A)- I love evolutionary physiology. The rest of my “looking forward to” talks will revolve around this.

Anne Dalziel- Acclimation and adaptation of energy metabolism in Lake Whitefish (9:00am Ballroom A)- Whitefish are a really cool system and Anne does really good work. Plus, fish.

Jonathan Velotta- Mechanisms of hypoxia adaptation: plasticity and evolution of heart size and gene regulation in high-altitude deer mice (3:15pm MR9AB)- Staying true to theme.


Jesse Czekanski-Moir: Inferring paleopolyploidy in the Mollusca (9:00am, room 4, Macroevolution) — Polyploidy is coming for us all, and I will delight in every talk in the coming years that detects more and more ploidy events in taxa where we didn’t see it coming.

SSB Symposium, “Putting evolution into ecological niche modelling: Building the connection between phylogenies, paleobiology, and species distribution models — I’ll be camped out here most of the morning in hopes of emerging with new best practices in linking SDMs and evolutionary history.


Daniel Gómez Sánchez: Is haplotype information required in selection scans? (8:30, 6B Population genetics: inference of selection 1) — Betting this will have some interesting pooled sequencing hacks.

Ellen Simms: Will rhizobia evolve to be more cooperative mutualists as atmospheric CO2 rises? (11:15, 10B Mutualism, 2) — Mutualism and climate change. I’m in.

David Kikuchi: Exploration-Exploitation Trade-offs and the Evolution of Multicomponent Signals (3:00, Ballroom B, Pollination) — I’ve recently been thinking a lot about signalling in mutualism, so this looks intriguing.


Yaniv Brandvain: Detecting epistatic selection in hybridizing populations, and Laurie Stevison: Recombination and the origin of species – both talks sound super interesting, and I’m excited to see what Yaniv and Laurie bring to the table. 3-3:15 PM, MR8

Christopher Theunert: Distinguishing recent admixture from ancestral population structure – seems very promising, since this is a major conundrum in pop-gen. 3:15 PM, MR5

Mohamed Noor: Thumbs up or thumbs down? A test for molecular evolutionary effects of background selection in the absence of (hard) selective sweeps –  Totally up my alley – Noor and colleagues have published some seminal works in the last few years in the field of selection and recombination, and this is on my top list of talks to be at. 3:30 PM, MR5


About Melissa DeBiasse

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. As an evolutionary ecologist I am interested in the processes that generate biodiversity in marine ecosystems. My research uses experimental methods and genomic and phenotypic data to test how marine invertebrate species respond to biotic and abiotic stressors over ecological and evolutionary timescales.
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