SMS scnews item created by Miranda Luo at Thu 23 Feb 2023 1412
Type: Seminar
Distribution: World
Expiry: 27 Feb 2023
Calendar1: 27 Feb 2023 1300-1330
Auth: miranda@ (jluo0722) in SMS-SAML

Statistical Bioinformatics Seminar Series: Stuart

Title: A whole genome perspective on genetic variation and rapid adaptation 

Speaker: Dr Katarina Stuart (University of Auckland) 

Abstract: Evolutionary theory tells us that the immense diversity that exists on this
planet does so through a complex combination of factors, in which genetic variation
plays a central role.  It is on this genetic variation that selection may act, enabling
adaptation.  Ongoing developments in sequencing and analytical tools are enabling more
comprehensive characterization of diverse components of genomic variation present in the
natural world.  Invasive species are often used as eco-evolutionary model species in
such studies, as the rapid evolutionary shifts they undergo post introduction allows
study of how molecular mechanisms and genomic variation underly adaptive processes.
Amongst these invasive species is the globally invasive European (or common) starling.
Their global success presents us an invaluable opportunity to test predictions about the
how different aspects of genetic variation may influence a populations’ ability to
rapidly adapt to a novel environment.  My research covers a range of different genomic
approaches, incorporating single nucleotide polymorphisms, structural variants,
transposable elements, museum genomics, as well as environmental and phenotypic data to
better understand mechanisms and patterns of rapid adaptation within this species.  More
broadly, this evolutionary research into the starling provides an important perspective
on the role of rapid evolution in invasive species persistence, and how different
aspects of genetic variation may contribute to population resilience under a shifting

About the speaker: Katarina Stuart’s research interests are in evolutionary genomics
and exploring how local adaptation is facilitated in invasive populations.  She
completed her PhD in 2022 at the University of New South Wales, looking at the genomic
mechanisms underpinning rapid adaptation in the globally invasive European starling.
Katarina is now a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, where she is extending
her research to focus primarily on the role of transposable elements in rapid adaption,
using both the starling and the common myna as model systems.

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