Munich Neuroscience Calendar


16.07.2024, 11:00 Max-Planck-Institut for Biological Intelligence Campus Seewiesen
until 12:00
Event Type: Talk
Speaker: Richard Merrill
Institute: Evolutionary Biology, LMU München

Title: Looking for love: Evolutionary Genetics of Visual Preferences in Tropical Butterflies

MPI BI Seewiesen, Haus 4
82319 Seewiesen

Host: Clemens Küpper

Visual attraction is an important driver of mate choice and sexual selection, but little is known about the underlying genes, or how they evolve. I will talk about a long-term project focused on the genetics and sensory ecology of visual preferences that are known to contribute to speciation in tropical Heliconius butterflies. By combining population genomic and gene expression analyses, data from hundreds of behavioural experiments, and genome editing using CRISPR/Cas9, we have been able to link a specific gene to the evolution of visual preference behaviours. I will discuss how these results i) implicate a role for interspecific hybridization, and adaptive introgression, during the evolution of behaviour; and ii) also show how visually-guided behaviours contributing to adaptation and speciation can be encoded within the genome. Finally, I hope to introduce some emerging work in which we are attempting to place these results within the broader context of visual evolution, including the specific cues involved and shifts in visual acuity associated with changes in habitat.

Streaming in NQ105, MPI of Biologicial Intelligence

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