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Evolution of Polymorphisms

Polymorphisms are discrete phenotypes. These include males and females, social insect castes, and many other reproductive, resource, dispersal or defense phenotypes. Polymorphisms are useful systems to study adaptive evolution and the relationship between developmental and evolutionary processes. We are particularly interested in how and why different sources of developmental input – genetic, maternal, and environmental – become ‘determinants’ of discrete phenotypes. For example, reptiles vary in their sex determining mechanisms, including different forms of genotypic sex determination (GSD) and temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). The adaptive significance of TSD has puzzled researchers for decades. Using a combination of mathematical modelling, experiments, and long-term field studies we established that climatically induced differences in the timing of reproduction can explain transitions from GSD to TSD in a lizard. A developmental-ecological perspective may also prove useful to predict how such changes will be reflected at the level of genomes and the molecular mechanisms by which polymorphisms develop.

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Contact information

Tobias Uller
Wallenberg Academy Fellow
Evolutionary ecology

Telephone: 046-222 30 94
E-mail: tobias.uller [at]

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