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Evolution & Systematics

Unique adaptations of a grazing, high-altitude primate

Life at high altitude is associated with many physiological challenges, including exposure to conspicuous stressors such as hypoxia and extreme cold. Consequently, most animals living at high altitude have been under strong selection to develop adaptations to these challenges. Unveiling adaptations in other high-altitude-living animals, including nonhuman primates, could therefore help illuminate the mechanisms underlying adaptive evolution of myriad traits. Here, we investigated the genetic adaptations to high altitude in a novel nonhuman primate model, the gelada monkey.

The interplay of plasticity and evolution in seasonal, changing environments

Organisms respond to climate change via tracking through space or time, phenotypic plasticity, or evolution.  A key question is whether plasticity facilitates evolution by enabling persistence or hinders evolution by buffering selection. I will present a phenotype-based forecasting framework for montane butterflies, which finds that plasticity facilitates evolution by reducing fluctuations in selection, particularly in more seasonal environments.  Repeating historic lab and field studies and examining museum specimens reveals both the viability of evolutionary responses and t

The clash of macromolecular titans: replication-transcription conflicts in bacteria

In every growing cell, the DNA replication and transcription machineries are routinely in conflict with each other. Replication-transcription conflicts have various negative outcomes, including slowing of DNA replication forks, and breaks in the DNA. Survival, despite the existence of conflicts, depends on essential conflict resolution factors that all organisms harbor. In this seminar, I will highlight some of the new insights we have gained regarding the multi-faceted effects of these encounters on key parameters of cellular function.

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