Patrícia Beldade
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    Ph.D. student's project [Sep 2005 - Aug 2009]
    FCT project @ IGC [Mar 2008 - Feb 2011]
    NWO-VIDI project [Nov 2008 - Oct 2013]
    FCT project @ IGC [Feb 2010 - Jan 2013]
    FCT project @ IGC [Feb 2010 - Jan 2013]

Shared pathways and unique traits: eyespot mutants
The origin and diversification of evolutionary novelties is one of the key issues in evolutionary developmental biology. However, the genetic and developmental analysis of such traits can be a challenge when they are not represented in model organisms, and the comparative method, so successful in evo-devo, is harder to apply. The finding that "new" traits often evolve through redeployment of "old" genes and/or gene networks offers the potential to overcome this challenge (pub#12). Extensive knowledge from studies in model organisms about shared pathways can be used to understand lineage-specific structures. Suzanne Saenko (Ph.D. student) is using this approach in relation to the eyespots on the wings of Bicyclus anynana butterflies. She is characterizing the genetics and development of a number of spontaneous mutations isolated in B. anynana that affect eyespot morphology and some other, more conserved, developmental process, such as embryogenesis or wing vein development. Analysis of these mutants in the context of the relevant knowledge from model organisms provides an excellent opportunity to dissect the genetic and developmental mechanisms involved in eyespot formation and variation.

Genetic basis & adaptive significance of wing pattern variation
Morphological diversity is the result of the reciprocal interactions between the developmental processes that translate genotype into phenotype and produce adult morphologies, and the evolutionary forces that weigh in the ecological significance of alternative phenotypes and determine their frequency. This project integrates the study of the genetic basis of variation in eyespot size (gene mapping and expression-profiling approaches), with an analysis of fitness differences between phenotypic variants (mate choice experiments). These approaches will be used on different lab populations and integrated with ongoing analysis of different natural populations of B. anynana and other Bicyclus species to compare intra- and inter-specific variation determined by genetic and environmental factors.

Co-option and evolutionary diversification
The VIDI research program examines how genetic pathways implicated in conserved and crucial developmental processes (namely, embryonic development and wound healing) are re-deployed into performing new functions in the development and diversification of novel traits (namely, colour patterns on butterfly wings). Two complementary projects will combine the analysis of: 1) specific pathways (embryos and Wingless signaling) and a more genome-wide search for relevant genetic pathways (expression profiling and mapping of genetic variation for damage-induced eyespots), 2) alleles of large effect and segregating quantitative variation, and 3) early (embryo) and later (pupal wings) developmental processes. These projects will provide a detailed genetic and developmental dissection of formation and variation in adaptive morphological novelties, while enabling a different look at crucial and extensively studied processes in developmental biology.

New genes for new traits
The VIDI research program examines how genetic pathways

research intro


post-doc work

Ph.D. thesis

outside attention



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