While writing my book on Eco-Evolutionary Dymamics, I wanted a chapter on the genetic/genomic underpinnings of the interactions between ecology and evolution. About the time I finished the chapter, I received an invitation to submit a paper to Heredity, and so I converted the book chapter into a paper (Hendry 2013).
|The last light of day from my room at Monte Verita, Ascona, Switzerland.|
This prospect made most of the genomics people in the room rather less than excited as it seemed to suggest that genomic mapping of ecological function – and the search for candidate genes and causal variants – would be hopeless. This same skepticism was – to some extent – the point I made in my 2013 paper where I argued that the genomics of eco-evolutionary dynamics would be very polygenic and so better served by quantitative genetics. However, further discussion brought up several important points that suggest the tools of genomics might be profitably turned to the exploration of ecological function.
|The Bailey et al. (2009) version of the relevant path model, which resulted in part from discussion we had when I edited their paper for a PTRSB special issue on Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics.|
|Seth Rudman gives a summary of the working group. If you look closely, you can see a scribbled version of the path model on the board at left.|
|The Genomics of Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics group.|
A few days after writing this post, Bob Paine, the originator of the keystone species concept passed away. I took a class from Bob Paine when I was a graduate student and have certainly referred to keystone species multiple times in my writing. In particular, I have argued that eco-evolutionary dynamics are most likely when the evolving focal species is a keystone species (or a foundation species or a ecosystem engineer and so on). Thus, if we are to search for particular genes of large effect, we would probably want to look in these species. And we might then call these large ecological effect genes "keystone genes."