Evolution and development

Development plays an important role in evolutionary change as it shapes the pattern of heritable phenotypic variation, which arises by mutation, before it is exposed to selection and drift. It thus provides systemic conditions for the ability to adapt and evolve. Most abstractly, the developmental structure can be considered a mapping of genotypic to phenotypic variation. In our work, we ask how specific properties of these genotype-phenotype maps, such as patterns of pleiotropy and epistasis, affect evolutionary response over long and short terms. We also study how the structure of the genotype-phenotype map itself evolves. Whereas most of this work has been theoretical so far, we increasingly include empirical insights about the structure of the genotype-phenotype map from developmental studies of our own and others.

 Related projects

  • FWF project P 33736 Stand-Alone (2020 - present)
    Evolvability of inner and middle ears in birds and mammals (PI Philipp Mitteröcker)
    Keywords: evolution, mammals, inner ear, middle ear, morphometrics, evolvability
  • FWF project P 29397 Stand-Alone (2016 - 2019)
    Developmental canalization in the human head (PI Philipp Mitteröcker)
    Keywords: morphometrics, cranial growth, theoretical biology, genetic mapping, fluctuating asymmetry, orthodontics