C3 Seminar: Jana Hinners
How evolvable within their trait space are marine diatoms?
Grasping the full potential of phytoplankton to evolve to changing environmental conditions is crucial for a more realistic understanding of the future of marine ecosystems. Today’s global ocean models allow us to capture which phytoplankton functional groups dominate which parts of the ocean. But so far these models only include very basic trade-offs between phytoplankton functional traits. Lab experiments indicate that there are restrictions between traits beyond the ones we expect from basic trade-offs. These hidden trade-offs between functional traits can constrain the evolvability of phytoplankton and hinder their adaptation to changing environmental conditions. To explore the evolvability of diatoms in their trait space, we performed an evolution experiment that combined a mutation accumulation phase together with a back-selection phase. In the mutation accumulation phase deleterious mutations can accumulate within populations leading to a fitness decrease and a scattering in trait space. The subsequent back-selection allows populations to reach a higher fitness again, potentially climbing new fitness peaks in trait space. Here, we show preliminary results of the evolution experiment that allow us to assess how connected or constrained the trait space of diatoms is.
Jana is a Postdoc in the lab of Sinead Collins at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Currently, she is performing an evolution experiment on the multi-trait evolvability of marine diatoms. This experiment is part of a collaborative project with the working groups of Martina Doblin (UTS) and Naomi Levine (USC, Los Angeles). Previously, Jana studied biology in Berlin, Germany and Lund, Sweden and did her PhD on dinoflagellate resurrection experiments and ecosystem modelling at the University of Hamburg, Germany.