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URPP Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems

Research Projects Phase I (2013 - 2016)

A number of key research questions in evolutionary biology were addressed in Phase I (2013 - 2016) of the URPP Evolution. For instance, evolutionary approaches were used to define management strategies for very small populations threatened by extinction. In addition, the generation of evolutionary novelty in changing environments were studied in plants and animals, but also in microorganisms/pathogens. The evolutionary diversity of disease signaling pathways and the role of epigenetics in evolution were additional key topics. Finally, in a transdisciplinary project, the evolution of language was studied. Five of these collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects were running until the end of Phase I:


Genomic Correlates of Microbial Coevolution
Christian von Mering
(IMLS), Jakob Pernthaler (IPMB), Leo Eberl (IPMB)

Evolution in Action: Environment, Agriculture and Human Disease
Kentaro Shimizu
(EBES), Frank Rühli (IEM), Michael Krützen (AIM), Beat Keller (IPMB), Thomas Wicker (IPMB), Rolf Schlapbach (FGCZ), Andreas Wagner (EBES), Wolf Blanckenhorn (EBES), Barbara Tschirren (EBES), Barbara König & Anna Lindholm (EBES)

Investigating the Importance of Epigenetics in Adaptation and Coevolution
Ueli Grossniklaus
(IPMB), Florian Schiestl (ISEB), Owen Petchey (EBES), Bernhard Schmid (EBES)

The Evolution of Language: an Integrative Approach
Marta Manser
(EBES), Carel van Schaik (AIM), Balthasar Bickel (IVS), Hans-Johann Glock (Institute of Philosophy)

Conservation Genomics: the Role of Functional Genetic Variation in Conservation
Lukas Keller
(EBES), Andreas Wagner (EBES)


The aim of these projects was to unite a fragmented community of biologists interested in evolution by focusing on joint research projects centered around this common theme. The specific questions addressed in each project are described in the individual research plans. The projects relied strongly on the novel technologies of the genomic revolution and brought together molecular biologists, geneticists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, physicians, linguists and bioinformaticians. Thus, they provided the basis to form an integrated, interdisciplinary community for research and teaching in evolutionary biology at UZH.