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Julie Collet

Centre for Biology and Management of Populations, Montpellier

Genetic covariance of resistance traits in different life stages

Annual meeting: 2018

Fields-Topics: P3 Population and Ecosystems,P6 Applied Maths

Type of talk: Fellows Speed Presentation

Genetic covariance of resistance traits in different life stages


I am an evolutionary biologist investigating genetic constrains on phenotype evolution. I am particularly interested in how pleiotropy between traits separated by life-stages, and traits alternatively expressed in males and females, limit the response to the different selection forces experienced during life and between sexes.
After I completed my PhD in zoology, exploring the quantification of sexual selection in the red jungle fowl at the University of Oxford (UK), I held a post-Doctoral position combining bioinformatics and quantitative genetics to study the evolution of sexual antagonism in fruit flies at the University College London (UK). I then worked at the University of Queensland (Australia) to explore transcriptome-wide mutational pleiotropy and the action of sexual selection on new mutations, developing innovative methods to analyse thousands of traits simultaneously. I then led a two-year AgreenSkills Plus fellowship at the CBGP, INRA, Montpellier, France aiming at estimating the genetic covariance of gene expression traits in different life stages in Drosophila. I am currently a Marie Curie fellow at the Center of Functional Ecology and Evolution, CNRS, Montpellier, France, investigating how sexual selection can help controlling an invasive pest species using a combination of artificial selection and multivariate mate choice experiments.


The design of sustainable biocontrol strategies requires taking into account the evolutionary response of pests against biocontrol agents (i.e. predators and parasites). The emergence of pest counter-adaptation critically depends on the costs associated with the defence against these agents. However, costs expressed in life stages that are not attacked by focal biocontrol agents have been largely overlooked. The genetic architecture of resistance traits expressed at different stages needs investigating to reveal whether shared genetic control leads to coupled evolution among traits separated by metamorphosis. The aim of the project is to survey the extent of genetic coupling across metamorphosis of many traits, in particular those involved in immune defence. We will use state-of-the-art quantitative genetics applied to transcriptomics data and artificially selected lines to investigate the extent of genetic co-variance across metamorphosis, using a model species Drosophila melanogaster. First, I am studying the transcriptome of larvae and adults of in bred lines of D. melanogaster within the G-matrix framework to reveal the evolutionary coupling between life stages in numerous traits. Focusing on resistance traits, I can evaluate the costs of resistance in response to different biocontrol agents targeting specific stages of a pest. Second, I am using artificially selected lines that are resistant to a parasitoid. By studying whether adult resistance traits are affected by the selection regime, I will reveal the genetic constraints of defence functions between life stages, to help identify the most evolutionary sustainable bioagent to fight against pests with several life stages.

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