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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Nicholas A Levis
Award Date:06/16/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 138,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 138,000
  • FY 2021=$138,000
Start Date:08/01/2021
End Date:07/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology FY 2021: How does trait regulation evolve from greater environmental control to greater genetic control?
Federal Award ID Number:2109325
Program:Biology Postdoctoral Research
Program Officer:
  • Daniel Marenda
  • (703) 292-2157

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Indiana University
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

This action funds an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY 2021, Integrative Research Investigating the Rules of Life Governing Interactions Between Genomes, Environment and Phenotypes. The fellowship supports research and training of the fellow that will contribute to the area of Rules of Life in innovative ways. Both environmental and genetic inputs during development influence the form and function of an organism’s traits. Importantly, the extent to which each factor—the environment and genetics—contributes to any given trait can change during evolution. General principles underlying the molecular basis of such a transition from environmental to genetic control are poorly understood. Filling this gap is not only critical for understanding the origins of new traits and adaptation in organisms, but doing so is also relevant to such applied fields as medicine, agriculture, and conservation. This research seeks to identify a signature of the shift in a trait’s regulation from primarily environmental to primarily genetic, that can be applied to other traits and organisms, and that will begin to explain rules governing the interactions between genomes, the environment, and phenotypes. This project focuses on the evolutionary loss of environmentally sensitive development, a process termed genetic assimilation. Genetic assimilation has a long history of intrigue and controversy, due in no small part to the fact that its molecular bases are poorly understood. The research component of this fellowship combines an emerging model nematode system with diverse approaches including experimental evolution, comparative genomics, and functional genetics to clarify genetic assimilation’s molecular bases and the extent to which they are idiosyncratic or conserved at microevolutionary and macroevolutionary scales. Specifically, the research will investigate the evolutionary changes that occur both within and between species when nematodes transition from possessing two alternative, environmentally induced, resource-use phenotypes to only possessing one of these phenotypes. This training includes collaboration with and mentorship of undergraduate and of high-school students from underrepresented groups in all aspects of the research. In sum, this project addresses a key unresolved issue in ecological evolutionary developmental biology. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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