Understanding variation in mutation rates and their fitness effects in multicellular organism

The causal mechanisms that shape variation in mutation rate and their phenotypic effects have fundamental impact on genetic diversity as well as rates of adaptation and extinction. Recent evidence has challenged the traditional view of mutation rate as being a fixed, species-specific parameter with unavoidable fitness consequences: empirical studies have demonstrated that mutation rates can be condition dependent and vary with the health of individuals, and new theory suggests that selection may shape the architecture of the genome to mitigate the fitness costs of new mutations. In this talk I will present our ongoing work in seed beetles aimed at exploring causal factors explaining intraspecific variation in mutation rate and mutational fitness effects. I will first talk about how environmental stress affects selection on de novo mutations in seed beetles and other organism. The second part of the talk will focus on new experiments with our beetles investigating the link between reproduction-lifespan trade-offs and individual variation in germline mutation rates.

Rike Stelkens