Thursday, September 12th, 2013
The National Science Foundation has awarded Mark Siegal a four-year grant to study cryptic genetic variation in the fly Drosophila melanogaster, a well established model organism for genetics research. A cryptic genetic variant is inconsequential under normal circumstances, but causes an observable difference under altered circumstances, such as when the environment dramatically changes. Cryptic genetic variation has not been well studied, but it has been proposed to be important in the adaptation of organisms to environmental stress and climate change. It has also been proposed to be a contributor to human "diseases of modernity" such as diabetes. The aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of cryptic genetic variation, by using advanced transgenic and morphometric approaches to study it in a more systematic, quantitative way than has been done before.