The Nature of Quantitative Variation

The inheritance of many traits of evolutionary, medical, and agricultural importance is polygenic in nature. The observation that complex traits have measurable genetic components, despite apparent stabilizing selection which should erode this variation over time, is a paradox in evolutionary biology. A number of theoretical models address the question of what maintains quantitative genetic variation, yet all models rely on assumptions regarding underlying genetic parameters. This is problematic, as despite great recent advances in our understanding of 'Mendelian' traits, we still know little about the molecular genetic basis of complex traits. My research uses the powerful genetic and molecular tools of model systems to elucidate the molecular genetic basis of polygenic characters. Approaches range from the use of cutting edge modern genomic tools, to the use of computer simulations based on population genetics theory, to purely statistical approaches that make maximal use of experimental data. The information obtained from these model systems can be used to address the basis of polygenic variation in humans. Current projects in the lab include:

- Construction and characterization of the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource Panel (DSRP)

- Dissecting the Genetic Basis of Chemotherapy Drug Toxicity in Drosophila

- Theoretical Modeling of the Evolution of Complex Traits

- Experimental Evolution in Drosophila, Yeast, and Bacteria (theory and experiments)

- Evo/Devo in Butterflies

Anthony D. Long 2011