Welcome to the

Klingenberg lab

Our research explores how morphological variation comes about. What are the developmental origins of variation, and how is its expression controlled genetically? What are the evolutionary implications of these processes? Genetic variation of morphological traits is based on genetic variation in the developmental processes that produce the traits. In turn, the genetic variation of morphological traits provides the potential for evolutionary change by selection or random drift. This potential is realised in phylogeny, providing the structured diversity of organismal forms we see in nature. Our long-term goal is to achieve a quantitative understanding of these linkages of genetics, development, and evolution.

To approach this goal, we use morphometric techniques to measure variation in the size and shape of morphological structures. We combine these methods with the experimental protocols from quantitative and developmental genetics as well as with comparative approaches in an explicit phylogenetic context. In particular, we are interested in devising new approaches to extract developmental information from the special structure of morphometric data, for instance, the redundancy inherent in symmetric body plans. We are also investigating complexes of characters that vary jointly in a coordinated fashion, because the patterns of variation in the final structures retain much information on the developmental processes that produced them. The search for new ways to extract such information has just begun, and there remains much opportunity for further exciting developments.

Our primary model systems are the Drosophila wing and mouse mandible and skull, but we engage in projects with an increasing range of other study organisms as well.

We are part of an informal group of labs working on different aspects of evolutionary biology and its interfaces with development, genetics and phylogeny. This group and the Faculty of Life Sciences as a whole provide an exciting environment to work in.

 

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Morphometrics course

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