DSSS - The role of phenotypic plasticity in the ecological theater: from experimental knowledge to theory and back
- Date: Nov 10, 2023
- Time: 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
- Speaker: Ata Kalirad
- MPI for Biology
- Location: NO.002, MPI für Intelligente Systeme
Phenotypic plasticity, the expression of multiple phenotypes of a trait by a single genotype, can strongly influence both the short-term interactions in ecological communities and the long-term evolutionary trajectories of natural populations. However, our understanding of how phenotypic plasticity shapes ecological assemblies remains limited. The nematode Pristionchus pacificus is a prominent model system to study phenotypic plasticity with well-developed genetic and molecular tools, as well as a variety of experimental techniques. This nematode develops one of two alternative mouth forms: a non-predatory form, which feeds on bacteria, and a predatory form that engages in cannibalism. The probability of developing either of these two mouth forms is determined by the interaction between a gene regulatory network and environmental factors. In this talk, I discuss attempts of varying complexity to combine the laboratory measurements of P. pacificus and our knowledge of its ecology, in order to develop theoretical tools that help us understand how the mouth-form plasticity in this nematode affects its population dynamics.