Chris Wilson – Bdelloid rotifers: twists and turns in a famous evolutionary scandal

Speaker: Dr. Chris Wilson (Imperial College London)

Title: Bdelloid rotifers: twists and turns in a famous evolutionary scandal

Where: Medical Sciences G46 H O Schild Pharmacology LT, UCL (Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT)

When: 12 July 2018, 17:30


Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic filter-feeding invertebrates, less than half a millimetre long, that live in moss and soil throughout the world. Over 400 species have been described, and all seem to be exclusively female. Individuals lay unfertilised eggs that hatch into identical asexual daughters. The success of this lineage across millions of years is a scandal for evolutionary biologists, because asexuals are supposed to lack the genetic variation needed to adapt to changing conditions. This talk explores how ecology and genetics have been used in attempts to explain this puzzle, leading to some surprising new biology along with a few missteps. Ultimately, the story of these tiny and unassuming rotifers may help explain the function of sex itself, one of the Big Questions in biology.