Events Spring 2014

Simons Institute Open Lecture: Evolutionary Genetics in the Crush of Genomics

Apr. 7, 2014 4:00 pm5:00 pm

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Charles H. Langley (UC Davis)

The melding of Darwin's fundamental theory, descent with modification via natural selection with Mendel's particulate theory of inheritance, provided a simple and fertile foundation for the elaboration of population genetics theory in the last century. The lack of direct observations of genetic variation in natural populations fostered creative investigations of diverse models over wide parameter ranges. But now the rapid emergence of empirical population genomic surveys is beginning to profoundly reshape evolution theory. Familiar and embarrassing paradoxes, such as the narrow range average diversity among species, can now be critically addressed. Computational challenges abound from genomic assembly to the rigorous statistical application of standard population genetic theory, such as the inference of gene/genome genealogies. In this context, I shall discuss several of our recent investigations of genomic polymorphism and divergence in Drosophila, including the interactions of natural selection and recombination as well as the impact of fundamental chromatin structure. Discussion of these studies will also serve as examples of the most significant consequence of this transition from what has been an abstract and theoretical population genetics to a structurally and functionally rich population genomics.

Light refreshments will be served before the lecture at 3:30 p.m.