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The genetic and developmental basis of developmental buffering.

Buffering is the process that minimizes phenotypic variation arising from genetic and environmental perturbations during development. It is considered an important process in evolutionary biology due to its ability to conceal genetic variation from selection, but nevertheless little is known about its genetic and developmental basis. This projects aims to fill this gap in our knowledge by examining the underlying processes of developmental stability in two unique vertebrate model systems. Developmental stability is the component of development buffering that acts at the individual level by buffering against random variation arising in the developmental process. It can be easily empirically determined by quantifying the level of fluctuating asymmetry, i.e. random deviations from perfect symmetry in a bilateral symmetric trait. To investigate the genetic and developmental basis of developmental stability, I will (1) investigate the associations between levels of fluctuating asymmetry and the presence and severity of congenital abnormalities in early deceased human fetuses (based on a hospital collection) and rabbit fetuses (experimentally exposed to teratogenic products) and (2) use genome-wide screening to detect mutations that influence the level of fluctuating asymmetry. It is expected that this multidisciplinary approach will indicate (1) developmentalsystems and (2) genetic pathways that affect developmental stability.
Date:1 Oct 2010 →  30 Sep 2014
Disciplines:Animal biology, Evolutionary biology , General biology, Genetics, Gynaecology and obstetrics, Molecular and cell biology, Morphological sciences, Social medical sciences, Veterinary medicine