Evolution of Drosophila development
Our goal is to identify the genes and, ultimately, the individual nucleotides that have generated phenotypic diversity. We believe that a thorough understanding of the molecular basis for diversity may lead to a revised view of how developmental mechanisms influence evolution.
Much of our work is focused on a group of closely related species in the Drosophila melanogaster species group.
We focus on this group because many of these species can be intercrossed and most of the crossable species pairs share gene synteny on all chromosomes. In addition, this species group displays enormous morphological, physiological, behavioral and ecological diversity. This rather unusual set of evolutionary circumstances -- combined with the close evolutionary relatedness of these species to the model species D. melanogaster -- provides a rare opportunity to utilize fine-scale genetic analysis to identify the genetic causes of phenotypic evolution. To leverage these biological facts, we are developing a set of genomics and genetics tools to accelerate genetic analysis of phenotypic evolution in this group of species.