CIE Seminar Series 2017 – The genetic basis of innovation: venom, pregnancy, and the evolution of complex traits

camilla-whittingtonSPEAKER: Dr Camilla Whittington, Research Fellow / Evolutionary and Integrative Zoology Lab School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, NSW

DATE: Friday, 3rd March 2017
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT 5 (B3.07); and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

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ABSTRACT: Evolutionary innovations such as eyes, eusociality, venom, and live birth (viviparity) are dramatic, adaptive novelties that have shaped the evolutionary trajectories of animals. However, their origins are poorly understood because they are produced by the collective action and evolution of thousands of genes.

By applying new molecular technologies to a targeted range of animals, my work aims to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of evolutionary innovations and to discover fundamental evolutionary mechanisms.

I will discuss my research into mammalian venom evolution, using the platypus as a model, as well as my studies of the transition from oviparity (egg laying) to viviparity in reptiles and the pot-bellied seahorse. My work suggests that there are common evolutionary mechanisms that underpin the development of novel traits across divergent species.

BIO: I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney and postdoctoral positions at the University of Zurich and the University of Sydney. I also spent time as a Fulbright Fellow at Washington University working on platypus venom.

I’m now focusing on the evolution of pregnancy, funded by a University of Sydney Research Fellowship and L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via John Endler.