University of California, Irvine
Anthony James, Fred Gould
Modeling of the evolutionary consequences of movement of novel genotypes and selfish genetic elements into new populations often generates unexpected predictions that are rarely tested empirically. Rigorous experimental assessments of model predictions will be conducted to further a basic understanding of evolution and advance the new field of applied evolutionary biology. Research on invasive species that threaten biodiversity, agricultural productivity and human health provides opportunities for model evaluation. Specifically, releases of transgenic mosquitoes developed for population suppression or modification mimic natural intraspecific invasion by genes and elements. Outcomes generated by simple and complex models include unanticipated results due to non-random associations of physically unlinked genes interacting with genetic drift. Investigators from the University of California, Irvine and North Carolina State University will test these models in four scenarios in laboratory cage trials with the Asian malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi. This work will contribute to a basic understanding of multi-locus evolutionary dynamics, contribute to novel control strategies for a major human disease and provide guidance for research on other invasive species less amenable to laboratory testing.
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