Evolutionary biology has a long tradition as a research discipline. Much of the evolutionary research in the past has been based on measures of phenotypic change, with genetic change inferred from statistical patterns. The ‘genomic revolution’, which allows us to study genetic variability of complete genomes directly, is changing this entirely at an incredible speed. Many new groups and research disciplines have started to contribute to evolutionary biology, making important discoveries relevant to both basic and applied science. Whole genome analysis opens new ways of approaching problems in evolutionary biology and it is timely to install an URPP in this field. The new tools for getting and analyzing data develop rapidly and stretch the capacities of individual research groups, limiting their efficient use. This asks for new approaches involving collaborative teams both in terms of the biological questions as well as the methods and approaches. At the same time, these developments hold the promise of uniting the very diverse biological disciplines to an unprecedented degree.
The University Research Priority Program "Evolution in Action: From Genomes Ecosystems" (URPP Evolution) aims at the integration of diverse research groups through focusing on a common research topic – diversification and adaptation – by using the novel technologies of the genomic revolution and applying them to both model and non-model systems.
The URPP Evolution involves multiple research groups in biology, and it plays an important integrative role for the diverse biological disciplines at UZH. It even reaches beyond the Faculty of Science (MNF) by including the Center of Evolutionary Medicine (Institute of Anatomy, Medical Faculty, MeF) and the Department of General Linguistics (Faculty of Arts, PhF).