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Darwin Day 2015: Darwin, Wallace, and Domestication

Wednesday, February 12 (Darwin's Birthday!) at 7:00 p.m.
Power Center Ballroom, Duquesne University

Dr. John Doebley
University of Wisconsin

In his book "On the Origin of Species," Charles Darwin used plant and animal domestication as a model to inform his theory on evolution under natural selection.

Artificial selection during plant domestication is thought to have been largely unconscious, the inevitable product of a sowing-reaping cycle. Selection pressures placed by humans on crops are analogous to those placed by seed-dispersers such as birds on wild species.Nevertheless, Darwin's use of domestication as a model for natural evolution has been controversial. In fact, Alfred Wallace, the co-discoverer of natural selection, objected to the use of artificial selection as a model for natural selection.

Over the past 20 years, genetic and molecular research has begun to uncover the genetic basis of the changes involved in the evolution of plant form under both natural and artificial selection. In the case of plant domestication, about two dozen genes involved in the changes in morphology have been isolated. For many of these genes, the nature of the alteration in the gene is understood. I will review what has been learned about the genetic basis for the change in form under domestication and whether any patterns are beginning to emerge. Do the type of genetic changes observed during plant domestication differ from those associated with the evolution of natural species?

About Darwin Day 2015

Darwin Day is an annual international celebration of the life and work of Charles Darwin. It is also a time to emphasize the importance of science education in today's modern world, and the impact evolutionary biology has on many aspects of our lives.

Evolutionary theory is the single unifying concept in modern biology. Unfortunately, there are groups working against the teaching of evolutionary biology in our schools, even as the United States continues to lag behind most other developed countries in math and science education.

Contact Us

For more information about Darwin Day 2015, contact us at darwin2015@duq.edu.

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