26 May 2021

Seminar title: The genetic basis of adaptation and biodiversity in marine organisms
Speaker: Dr. Longjun Wu, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

Date: 26 May 2021 (Wednesday)
Time: 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Meeting link: https://hkust.zoom.us/s/98519663421
Zoom Meeting ID: 985 1966 3421
Passcode: 236286

Abstract
Understanding how, genetically, organisms adapt to the changing environment and the evolutionary origin of biodiversity are fundamental questions in biology. Marine organisms represent an unreplaceable and incomparable biodiversity in the tree of life. They provide a unique strength to investigate key evolutionary transitions and adaptations. However, the genetic basis of evolutionary novelty in marine organisms is largely unknown. In this talk, I will present studies addressing this question mainly using marine organisms from the Spiralia group. My first study provides evidence supporting the important but underappreciated role of lineage-specific genes (genes that are restricted to a particular group of organisms) in the origin of key traits of that group: Spiralia. The second study focuses on exploring and characterizing genes underlying a novel germ layer in Spiralia group: the ectomesoderm. Using a single-cell transcriptomics approach, the last study describes a critical role of stress and stress-induced reactions in the origination of a novel cell type, an example of Stress Induced Evolutionary Innovation (SIEI). I will present how the SIEI concept can be applied to study marine organisms’ capacity and genetic mechanisms to adapt to stress, especially the projected climate change related stresses.

Biography
Dr. Wu is currently a postdoctoral associate at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Systems Biology Institute at Yale University. Born and raised in southeastern coast of China, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Xiamen University where he studied the evolution of marine invertebrate Amphioxus (lancelet). He then moved to the United States and received his PhD degree from Ecology, Evolution, Genetics and Genomics program at University of Rochester. Despite being located hundreds of kilometers from the ocean, he used marine spiralian species such as marine snail Ilyanassa and rotifers to study evolutionary novelty and adaptation. Dr. Wu’s research interests lie in the biodiversity of marine organisms and its underlying genetic basis. He has hands-on research experiences from a variety of organismal systems, including animals from eight phyla.

All Are Welcome!