The role of gene expression in phenotypic plasticity and adaptive divergence (ISSF Catalyst)
In this research project, advanced DNA sequencing approaches will be used to investigate long-standing questions about the origins of biodiversity. Specifically, the proposal seeks to determine differential gene expression associated with rapidly evolving and phenotypically plastic trophic polymorphisms. I will focus on laboratory-raised wild populations of Arctic charr and European whitefish, in which I will induce pelagic and benthic phenotypes by manipulating diet. Then I will conduct whole transcriptome analyses of gene expression to identify differentially expressed genes between trophically polymorphic individuals. The experimental design will include replicates across populations and species, thereby increasing the power of inference. Research will be conducted in collaboration with University of Glasgow faculty, SCENE, and Glasgow Polyomics archive. Combined, this approach will address pressing and topical questions in evolutionary biology and the genetics of biodiversity.