A major open issue in Evolutionary Biology is to identify the genetic bases of fitness and speciation. As sexual pheromones play a key role in the reproduction process, we propose in this project to assess experimentally the role of male sexual pheromones in sexual selection and reproductive isolation. Based on a relevant model butterfly group, this will be the first study that makes experimentally the link between the variability of sexual pheromone production in males, the consequences of this variability on fitness and speciation, and the genetic bases generating this variability, on which sexual selection acts to create ultimately new species.
This project integrates:
i) the multidisciplinary use of powerful techniques from the fields of evolutionary genetics (artificial selection, gene mapping, microarrays), behavioural ecology (estimation of reproductive success in a field-like environment), biochemistry and phylogenetics;
ii) the study of several major levels of biological organisation, from species to molecules.
The proposed project is highly relevant to the Marie Curie objectives as it will provide me training and experience in some fields of evolutionary Biology that will complement my previous PhD experience, and will strengthen my career as an independent researcher at the scientific and management levels. Importantly, working in the institute of Biology (IBL) in Leiden University will extend my current network of collaborators as I will interact with leading researchers from this institute, and with other international laboratories in biochemistry, in behavioural ecology and in evolutionary genetics that collaborate with the IBL on this project.
Long-term synergy between my home institute in Belgium and the IBL should meet the specific objective of the Marie Curie action, which encourages synergies and structuring effects at the European level, as it will strengthen a pool of competencies for the study of the genetic bases of speciation.
Call for proposal
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