The annual Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium (MBMSS) is a state-wide gathering of scientists and students—an opportunity to share research results, exchange ideas, promote collaboration, and network with Maine scientists in a variety of disciplines.
2021 Keynote Speaker: Scott V. Edwards, Ph.D., Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Director of Graduate Studies, Harvard University
Wings, feathers, flight: the PhyloG2P approach to understanding bird biology
The genotype-to-phenotype (G2P) map is of ongoing interest in evolutionary biology. Whereas for a few model organisms, traditional methods such as genetic mapping have allowed great advances, the vast majority of biodiversity can’t embrace this paradigm. However, comparative genomics is now allowing us to map genes for traits using phylogenetic approaches (PhyloG2P; Smith et al. 2020 TREE). By taking advantages of phenotypically unique lineages or convergent evolution, PhyloG2P can provide surprisingly precise identification of coding and noncoding loci underlying evolutionarily labile traits. I illustrate this approach with two examples, the first of which focuses on whether the origin of feathers was driven primarily by gene sequence evolution or gene regulation, and the second of which asks a similar question for the convergent loss of flight in paleognathous birds, which include the ostrich, emu, kiwis and relatives. In both cases, regulatory evolution seems to have played an important role in the gain and loss of fundamental avian traits. Additional ‘omics approaches, such as ATAC-seq, help refine hypothesis of causal loci based on comparative analysis. Overall our results suggest a strong role for non-coding regulatory evolution in the origin of key adaptations of birds.
Building upon the success of the first online MBMSS in April 2020, the 2021 event will include online poster and speaker sessions and a career panel for students. This year’s online program will be further expanded to include a keynote presentation and panel on COVID-related research throughout the state.
Abstract Submission Deadline: April 12, 2021
- David Angelini, Ph.D.Associate ProfessorColby College
- James A. Coffman, Ph.D.Associate Professor; Director, Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)MDI Biological Laboratory
- Patsy Dickinson, Ph.D.Josiah Little Professor of Natural SciencesBowdoin College
- Jane E. Disney, Ph.D.Senior Staff Scientist; Director of Research Training; Director, Community Environmental Health LaboratoryMDI Biological Laboratory
- Jean Doty, Ph.D.Professor of BiologyUniversity of Maine Farmington
- Markus Frederich, Ph.D.Associate ProfessorUniversity of New England
- Ellen Hostert, Ph.D.ProfessorUniversity of Maine at Machias
- Chris Petersen, Ph.D.Faculty, Ecology and BiologyCollege of the Atlantic
- Paula Schlax, Ph.D.ProfessorBates College
- Christine SmithDirector of Courses, Conferenes, and EvaluationMDI Biological Laboratory
- Ryan Tewhey, Ph.D.Assistant ProfessorThe Jackson Laboratory
- Robert Wheeler, Ph.D.Professor of Molecuar and Biomedical ScienceUniversity of Maine
- Scott V. Edwards, Ph.D.Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard University
The online event schedule is currently in development, though program activities will be scheduled Wednesday April 28 through Friday April 30. Invited speaker presentations will be in the late afternoon on each day. Poster presentations will be available for asynchronous viewing and interactive online discussion forums.