Dr. McKenna publishes study on how butterfly wings get their shape
October 28, 2021
Wing shape in Lepidoptera develops through differences in the relative growth of four semi-independent regions of the wing imaginal disk.
From Idea to Reality: Dr. Gawne's edited volume on the evolution of agriculture nears publication
The contributors report on the results of quantitative analyses comparing human and nonhuman agriculture; discuss evolutionary conflicts of interest between and among farmers and cultivars and how they interfere with efficiencies of agricultural symbiosis; describe in detail agriculture in termites, ambrosia beetles, and ants; and consider patterns of evolutionary convergence in different aspects of agriculture, comparing fungal parasites of ant agriculture with fungal parasites of human agriculture, analyzing the effects of agriculture on human anatomy, and tracing the similarities and differences between the evolution of agriculture in humans and in a single, relatively well-studied insect group, fungus-farming ants.
Dr. Gawne with another contribution to theoretical biology!
In The Individual in the Animal Kingdom, we meet a youthful Huxley who uses his commanding knowledge of natural history to develop a nonreductionist account of life's complexity that aligns with seminal early insights by Darwin, Wallace, Weismann, and Wheeler. As volume editors Richard Gawne and Jacobus Boomsma point out, this work disappeared into oblivion despite its relevance for contemporary research on organismal complexity and major evolultionary transitions. This MIT Press edition gives Huxley's book a second hearing, offering readers a unique vantage point on the discoveries of evolutionary biology past and present.
Dr. McKenna publishes dissertation research on the rapid evolution of physiology under extreme environmental conditions
This study used a novel time series E&R approach to directly associate the evolution of candidate loci with the evolution of starvation resistance, increased lipid content and decreased metabolism. Dr. McKenna identifies rapid physiological evolution for increased lipid content and starvation resistance in as early as one generation after selection.
Dr. McKenna discusses the concept of organ identity in his new book chapter
The development and evolution of multicellular body plans is complex. Many distinct organs and body parts must be reproduced at each generation, and those that are traceable over long time scales are considered homologous. Among the most pressing and least understood phenomena in evolutionary biology is the mode by which new homologs, or “novelties” are introduced to the body plan and whether the developmental changes associated with such evolution deserve special treatment. In this chapter, we address the concepts of homology and evolutionary novelty through the lens of development. We present a series of case studies, within insects and vertebrates, from which we propose a developmental model of multicellular organ identity. With this model in hand, we make predictions regarding the developmental evolution of body plans and highlight the need for more integrative analysis of developing systems.
Dr. McKenna and Dr. Gawne discuss the problem of genetic control in developmental biology
Genes play a major role in development. But how important are they? Do they "control" or are they acted upon by developmental phenotypes? McKenna et al., lead a great discussion of these problems in biology.