Heredity Podcasts

A mussel mosaic

A fascinating mosaic has recently been discovered in the Mediterranean, and we’re not talking about the famous tiled art.  Here, we’re talking about a genetic mosaic in the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) that stretches for over 600 km along the North African coast.  What led to this incredibly large hybrid zone?  Dr Nicolas Bierne from the University of Montpellier explains all in this episode of the Heredity Podcast.

The associated scientific article is published in Nature:  The hidden side of a major marine biogeographic boundary: a wide mosaic hybrid zone at the Atlantic–Mediterranean divide reveals the complex interaction between natural and genetic barriers in mussels.


February 2019 episodes:

The master gland of domestication? 

When we think of Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection, the mind conjures images of exotic voyages to distant lands.  However, in reality, Darwin’s theory was more heavily influenced by his observations on the process of domestication, which he made in his own backyard.  The evolution of domestic animals still fascinates biologists, and in this episode of the Heredity Podcast Dr Amir Fallahshahroudi discusses his recent research on the genetic basis of domestication in the chicken.  This work has focused in on the pattern of gene expression in the pituitary gland, a small organ that lies between the brain and the rest of the body: could this ‘master gland’ of hormone production also be controlling the development of the ‘domestic phenotype’?  Tune in and find out.

Associated paperChanges in pituitary gene expression may underlie multiple domesticated traits in chickens


A mixing of wolves

While there is little doubt that the grey wolf is one of the world’s most iconic species, it is equally true that it is one of the world’s most reviled. This later sentiment has seen them extirpated from much of their former habitat.  However, in a few places, wolves are making a comeback. In this episode of the Heredity Podcast, Sarah Hendricks, Dr Rena M. Schweizer and Prof. Robert Wayne discuss their recent research exploring the genetic history of naturally re-established wolf populations in the US states of Oregon and Washington: their discovery that some of these populations represent a genetic mixing of two distinct ecotypes presents challenges for current conservation policy in the country, and raises the question: what wolf belongs where?

Associated Heredity paper: Natural re-colonization and admixture of wolves (Canis lupus) in the US Pacific Northwest: challenges for the protection and management of rare and endangered taxa.


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