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Evolution of complex phenotypes
Genes - Individuals – Societies
Mapping genotypes to phenotypes, or phenotypes to genotypes, is one of the most challenging tasks in evolutionary genetics and molecular biology. The challenge increases the further the phenotypic traits are from the gene and the more complex the phenotype is. For example, it is far more difficult to construct phenotype/genotype maps of traits that are consequences of genes -> proteins -> neuro-sensory-motor responses -> interactions of individuals and their environments, and interactions of individuals in social environments than to map individual gene expression as a phenotype. How do you develop models for the evolution of these phenotypes? We will look at ageing as a complex adaptive trait of individuals and social physiology and behavior as complex adaptive phenotypes of groups. Even more challenging is to understand and develop evolutionary models for complex adaptive traits. In particular, what are the individual components and levels of biological organization under selection? What is a complex phenotype (define complexity) and how do highly complex systems at different biological organizational levels (genes, physiology, development, behavior, etc.) underlying phenotypes become modularized, organized into expressed phenotypes, and evolve?
In this two-day workshop we will present and discuss our own practical and theoretical experiences with complexity and complex phenotypes (Marc Tatar – Aging; Rob Page – Division of Labor (pollen vs nectar foraging); Jürgen Gadau – Social Organization/structure (number of reproductive in ant colonies).