Transcriptome Divergence and Molecular Genetic Mechanisms Involved in the Co-Option of Morphological and Behavioral Traits in Courtship(1/3)

Project Details


The changes of gene regulation have become the norm in the Evo-Devo of simple traits, but not much has been explored in the interplays of gene regulatory networks, GRNs, in functionally-related traits. Nonetheless, the evolution of functional relatedness in two or more traits that serve as a cohesive unit acted on by natural or sexual selection is commonly observed. In order to elucidate the mechanisms better reflect complexity of trait development, I propose to investigate the genic basis and GRNs in the evolution of two male-specific functionally-related traits, wing spot (as a morphological trait) and wing display (as a behavioral trait) in the Oriental Drosophila melanogaster species group, which include the well-studied species, D. melanogaster, in many aspects relevant to this study. By the mean of comparative genomics and comparative transcriptomes using two NGS technologies with complementary merits, the underlying genetic mechanisms for the co-option of these two functionally-related traits will be first investigated in detail in a crossable species pair in which one, D. elegans, possesses both traits and the other one, D. gunungcola, lacks both traits. The transcriptome analysis of pupal wings and adult brains with other conventional means will be employed to identify and validate of molecular divergence that are important for wing spot development and decision making of wing display at DNA sequence and transcription levels. Then the evolutionary dynamics of GRNs for wing spots and wing display will be investigated by using comparative transcriptome analysis on the gene expression levels in pupal wings and adult brains across 11 species in the studied lineage. Throughout the study of comparative transcriptomes with supplementary experiments in RT-qPCR, RNA in situ, and transgenic fly analysis, I anticipate to unveil the GRN subcircuits and their co-options in the origin of functional related traits, the conservation and flexibility of connections among GRN nodes, the genetic and driving mechanisms to retain the coupling of functional related traits.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Drosophila
  • Evolutionary Genetics
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual selection
  • Comparative transcriptomics
  • Gene regulatory networks
  • Evolutionary developmental Biology


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.