Physiological genomics of a polymorphic locus affecting dispersal and ecological dynamics

Project: Research project

Project Details


Name: Marden, James H.

Proposal Number: IOS 0950416

Project Title: Physiological Genomics of a Polymorphism Locus Affecting Dispersal and Ecological Dynamics

This project will examine how allelic variation in the succinate dehydrogenase d (sdhd) gene affects metabolism and locomotion physiology of an insect that is a model species for metapopulation biology. Succinate dehydrogenase d (Sdhd) is a nuclear gene that encodes a subunit of the mitochondrial enzyme SDH, which links the TCA cycle to the electron transport chain. In addition to its central role in metabolism, SDH affects the hypoxia inducible pathway that controls insect tracheal morphogenesis (and human diseases such as vascularized tumors). In Melitaea cinxia butterflies, preliminary data show that Sdhd alleles are associated with differences in SDH catalytic rate (Vmax), flight endurance, ability to disperse and establish new populations, and demographics of established populations. By revealing the mechanistic links between genes, development, physiology, and ecological dynamics, this study will provide an unusually detailed picture of coupled ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Data will be used in models that enable a more detailed and predictive understanding of factors that affect regional persistence of species (which depends on metapopulation processes, including dispersal ability), and which can be generalized to examine the role of genetic and physiological variation in resiliency, disturbance, and climate change. The study is part of an ongoing collaboration with the University of Helsinki. Students will gain experience conducting international collaborative science and will receive training in integrative biology. Genomics tools developed in this research will promote and facilitate the application of new functional genomics technology to organismal, ecological, and evolutionary biology.

Effective start/end date3/1/108/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $440,785.00


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