Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ROBUST Report Summary

Project ID: 337579
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Mid-Term Report Summary - ROBUST (Evolution of a new stable phenotype: a genetic, developmental and behavioural analysis)

Our project aims to answer one of the most challenging questions of modern evolutionary biology: how do observable characteristics change between species and yet remain stable in a given species? Traits that are specific to human beings, or to any other species, are pretty stable within the population yet such traits have changed between species during evolution. For example, humans have elongated thumb and shortened fingers compared to other apes. How do we go from one stable phenotype to another new stable phenotype during evolution?
We searched for the genes that determine the number of genital sensory hairs in fruit flies, a number that remains the same within a species but changes between species, and we started to reconstruct the evolutionary history of such trait, trying to understand what led to the stabilisation of hair number in each species. We found that the new hair pattern of Drosophila santomea is due to at least four mutations located within an exquisitely small genomic region which controls the expression of a single gene. Our work is the first unequivocal identification of a gene causing evolution of genitals in animals. This result should now help to understand how and why genital organs are the most rapidly evolving body part in animals.

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top