Leader: Ueli Grossniklaus (IPMB), Partners: Florian Schiestl (ISB), Owen Petchey (EBES), Bernhard Schmid (EBES)
Summary and Scientific Questions
Despite the heritability of epigenetic variation, its ecological and evolutionary significance has largely been ignored. This project will investigate the ecological and evolutionary significance of epigenetic variation and inheritance. There are currently no unambiguous experimental data demonstrating a role of epigenetics in the response to changes in the biotic and abiotic environment. We will investigate the phenotypic, genetic, and epigenetic changes that occur during experimental selection under specific pollinator regimes, parasite loads, predation pressures, and resource availabilities. This project will address the following questions: What are the phenotypic responses to environmental change? Are these phenotypic changes heritable? Do they have a genetic or epigenetic basis? What epigenetic mechanisms underlie these phenotypic responses? This interdisciplinary project involves four research groups in three institutes with expertise in epigenetics, genomics, experimental ecology, and evolutionary biology.