CIE Seminar Series 2018: Mitochondria, life-histories, and the evolution of sex differences

SPEAKER: Assoc. Professor Damian Dowling, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University

DATE: Friday, 18th May 2018

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION:  Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207 (green room)

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre; and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (fishbowl)

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

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ABSTRACT. In my research group, we are interested in the contribution mitochondrial genomes make to the evolution of life-histories. There are strong theoretical reasons to believe that mtDNA sequences will accumulate functional genetic variation (i.e. genetic variation that changes the phenotype) under both non-adaptive and adaptive processes. Furthermore, maternal inheritance of the mitochondria should hypothetically render mitochondrial genomes prone to the accumulation of sex-specific variation, via alleles that are benign or advantageous to females, but outright harmful to males. This has beencalled the “Mother’s Curse” effect. In this seminar, I will present studies from my group that suggest mutation accumulation and adaptation both play a role in shaping patterns of mitochondrial sequence variation. I will present experimental support the Mother’s Curse effect, including evidence that mitochondrial haplotypes are sexually antagonistic (haplotypes that are good for females are bad for males). I will discuss the implications of our findings for our understanding of key biological concepts, including the evolution of sex differences, adaptation under sexually antagonistic selection, and the capacity of our native flora and fauna to cope with ever increasing climatic stress.

BIO. Damian Dowling is an Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow, at the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University. He completed his PhD studies in 2004 at the University of Melbourne, before embarking on postdoctoral research at Uppsala University in Sweden, working with Professor Göran Arnqvist, and then the University of Western Australia, with Professor Leigh Simmons. In 2009, he was awarded a Monash University Research Fellowship, and moved back to Melbourne. In 2010 he was awarded an ARC Australian Research Fellowship, and then a Future Fellowship commencing in 2017. Damian is the theme leader for Evolution, and has taken on the role of Director of Research, in the School of Biological Sciences. He is an evolutionary ecologist by training, who is broadly interested in adaptation under sexual selection and sexual conflict, and the evolution of ageing. In recent years, he has been fascinated by the possibility that the mitochondria might play a role in mediating these processes.

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