EEB Seminar: November 14th 2013

The different morphologies of queen and worker ants are the result of environmentally induced differences in gene expression during their development.

Ehab Abouheif will talk on

What have Evo Devo and supersoldier ants taught us about how evolution works?

at 12:30 in Medical School Atrium room 132  [note venue as we needed space for the BIOL-440 class as well]

Abouheif is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at McGill where he studies the eco-evo-devo biology of ants.

Ehab’s research mission has been to understand how genes and environment  interact to guide development, and in turn how these interactions have evolved to generate diversity both between and within species. Polyphenism – the capacity of the same genotype to generate discrete phenotypes – in the ants is especially dramatic, with comprehensive differences in behaviour, life history and morphology between castes. The Abouheif lab has not only been at the fore in mapping out the gene networks associated with development and caste-differentiation in ants, but does incredibly cool manipulative experiments with environmental induction. In the first of two lectures this week (Thursday’s EEB and Friday’s Departmental), Ehab will explain how his lab has developmentally resurrected super soldiers in species that normally don’t have these sumo-sized fighting machines for colony defence, among other things.

Ehab’s second talk “The Evo Devo of Conflict and Cooperation in Ant Societies” will be on Friday at 10:30AM in BioSci 3110. He would also love to tell anyone interested about his ventures into understanding the Evo Devo of sexual conflict in water striders.

Abouheif and some ants

His lab website is here and some of his recent papers are:

  • Shbailat SJ, Abouheif E. 2013. The wing-patterning network in the wingless castes of Myrmicine and Formicine ant species is a mix of evolutionarily labile and non- labile genes. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 320B:74-83.
  • Abouheif E. 2013. Evolution: oskar reveals missing link in co-optive evolution. Current Biology 23 (1): R24-R25.
  • Khila A, Abouheif E, and Rowe L. 2012. Function, developmental genetics, and fitness consequences of a sexually antagonistic trait. Science 336: 585-589
  • Rajendhran Rajakumar, Diego San Mauro, Michiel B. Dijkstra, Ming H. Huang, Diana E. Wheeler, Francois Hiou-Tim, Abderrahman Khila, Michael Cournoyea, Ehab Abouheif. 2012. Ancestral Developmental Potential Facilitates Parallel Evolution in Ants. Science 335 (6064): 79-82.

Please contact Adam Chippindale if you are interested in talking with Dr Abouheif during his visit.

Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar