How do new traits arise as species divide?


I am interested in the process of how one species divides into two. My research seeks the genetic changes that facilitate divergence between species. I use high throughput genomics to identify evolved genes and molecular genetics to learn how those genes  contribute to separation of species. My aim is to learn how a genome limits or enables meaningful change.

The three species of the Drosophila simulans clade diverged almost simultaneously on islands in the Indian Ocean about 250,000 years ago.  Although these species are distinguished by differences in morphology, physiology and behavior, D. simulans, D. mauritiana and D. sechellia show incomplete separation, and will hybridize with each other. This feature permits a genetic approach to identifying the causal changes that underlie the processes of adaptation and speciation.  Relatedness to the genetic model, D. melanogaster makes this group a particularly powerful study system.

My current research is focused on two main projects: 

1) The emergence of premating isolation barriers between species.

2) Adaptation to a toxic host fruit in D. sechellia.

I have also maintained my graduate research on the evolution of metamorphosis in insects.

 © Deniz Erezyilmaz 2015