Research

Main research areas

We are interested in life history evolution in general, and our current research is focused around two connected themes:

(1) Evolution of inheritance systems (phenotypic plasticity, parental and epigenetic inheritance) during adaptation to new environments

(2) The role of life-history trade-offs during the evolution of long lifespan

We investigate these questions using experimental evolution, artificial selection, pharmaceutical and genetic manipulations in the powerful  Caenorhabditis remanei and C. elegans nematode model systems. Through external collaborations we also study adaptation in nature (using amphibians and Daphnia)

The Nematode Lab

We are part of the well-equipped Nematode Lab at the Dept. of Animal Ecology, led by two collaborating PIs (Dr. Lind and Dr. Bolund), all interested in experimental evolutionary biology and working in areas such as life-history evolution, transgenerational inheritance, sexual selection and ageing.



Research Areas



(1) Evolution of inheritance systems (phenotypic plasticity, parental and epigenetic inheritance) during adaptation to new environments

The belief that the genetic code is the sole basis for biological inheritance has been challenged by the discovery of several mechanisms of environmentally induced, non-genetic regulation and inheritance, including epigenetic inheritance (the inheritance of environmentally induced phenotypes to the offspring).

All organisms live in temporally heterogeneous environments, and recent theory suggest that the period of environmental fluctuations is the key to the evolution of non-genetic inheritance, where phenotypic is adaptive during short and unpredictable environmental fluctuations, while parental effects and epigenetic inheritance are adaptive when the environment cycles over longer periods.

Non-genetic effects can also influence evolution. Theory suggests that environmentally induced phenotypes can aid adaptation by enabling a population to survive in new environments, until genetic change catches up.

Our lab investigates the role of environmental heterogeneity for the evolution of inheritance systems and their transient dynamics during adaptation to novel environments using experimental evolution using the nematode  C. remanei as a model system.

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(2) The role of life-history trade-offs during the evolution of long lifespan

Long life is generally not for free, but lifespan often in trade-off with other traits such as reproduction, growth or development, or results in costs expressed in the other sex or in the offspring.

Using experimental evolution or artificial selection we investigate the evolution of long life and evolutionary costs of lifespan extension, using C. remanei as a model system.

We also use pharmaceutical and genetic manipulations of C. remanei or C. elegans in order to understand whether target genetic pathways, known to extend lifespan, also has pleiotropic costs or if long life can, indeed, be for free.

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