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Pristionchus – Population Genetics and Ecology

© Ralf Sommer/MPI for Developmental Biology, Tübingen

One of the central aims of the Department is to work towards a better integration of studies on macroevolution, microevolution and ecology with developmental genetics and evo-devo.

Therefore, as well as our ongoing research in Pristionchus evo-devo, we are attempting to incorporate the dynamics of natural variation into our research focus. While the distribution of P. pacificus is globally widespread, we have discovered an enormous diversity of P. pacificus on La Réunion Island, that covers basically all known haplotype.

Since 2010 we have an evolutionary field station on La Réunion island. La Réunion is a particularly well-suited location for our purposes - the island is young (< 2 Ma), has a high number of endemic scarab beetles, and is a French overseas department with an outstanding infrastructure. Updated information on our population genetic and ecological work on the island can be found on our website about La Réunion.

On La Réunion, we study the adaptation of P. pacificus to various extreme environments, such as oxygen and temperature adaptations at high altitude locations.

Scientists involved:

  • Dr. Eduardo Moreno, Postdoc
  • Tess Renahan, Ph.D. Student
  • Tobias Loschko, Technician

Selected References:

McGaughran, A., Rödelsperger, C., Grimm, D. G., Meyer, J. M., Moreno, E., Morgan, K., Leaver, M., Serobyan, V., Rakitsch, B., Borgwardt, K. M.  & Sommer, R. J. (2016): Genome-wide profiles of diversification and genotype-phenotype association in nematodes from La Réunion Island. Mol Biol Evol.33, 2257-2272.

Moreno, E., McGaughran, A., Zimmer, M. & Sommer, R. J. (2016): Oxygen-induced social behaviors in Pristionchus pacificus have a distinct evolutionary history and genetic regulation than Caenorhabditis elegans. Proc. Roy. Soc. B, 283(1825):20152263. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2263.

McGaughran, A., Morgan K. & Sommer, R. J. (2014):
Post hoc association analyses in a hermaphroditic nematode support significant genotype-environmental interactions. PLOS ONE, 9, e87317. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087317.

Morgan, K., McGaughran, A., Ganeshan, S., Herrmann, M., & Sommer, R. J. (2014): Landscape and oceanic barriers shape dispersal and population structure in the  Island nematode Pristionchus pacificus. Biol. Journal Linnean Soc., 112, 1-15.

McGaughran, A., Morgan K. & Sommer, R. J. (2013):
Natural variation in chemosensation: lessons from an island nematode. Ecol. & Evol., 3, 5209-5224.

McGaughran, A., Morgan K. & Sommer, R. J. (2013):
Unravelling the evolutionary history of the nematode Pristionchus pacificus: from lineage diversification to island colonization. Evolution & Ecology, 3, 667-675.

Morgan, K., McGaughran, A., Witte, H., Bartelmes, G., Villate, L., Herrmann, M., Rochat, J. & Sommer, R. J. (2012):
Multi-locus analysis of Pristionchus pacificus on La Réunion Island reveals an evolutionary history shaped by multiple introductions, constrained dispersal events, and rare out-crossing. Mol Ecol., 21 (2), 250-266.

Molnar, R. I., Bartelmes, G., Dinkelacker, I., Witte, H. & Sommer, R. J. (2011):
Mutation rates and intraspecific divergence of the mitochondrial genome of Pristionchus pacificus. Mol. Biol. Evol., 28, 2317-2326.

Herrmann, M., Kienle, S., Rochat, J., Mayer, W., & Sommer, R. J. (2010): Haplotype diversity of the nematode Pristionchus pacificus on Réunion in the Indian Ocean suggests multiple independent invasions. Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 100, 170-179.