Goal: To determine whether flies adapt to cold temperatures by becoming darker in colour
Duration: 15-30 credits, Bachelor level preferred (bachelor project or research project)
Start date: Flexible
Qualifications: No previous experience necessary, but is also suitable for a student with programming experience who would like to try creating an automatic routine for image analysis.
Insects are ectothermic, which means that reaching a sufficiently high body temperature to maintain activity might be difficult in cold climates. One way of doing so is to alter body colouration in response to temperature, for example by becoming darker in colder climates. Such a response could be either plastic (i.e. determined by developmental cues) or genetic (i.e. a result of local adaptation). There is evidence in support of both processes. In this project, you will investigate if female fruit flies collected at different locations within Europe show evidence of local adaption in terms of abdominal colour.
This project is part of a collaboration within the European Drosophila Population Genomics Consortium (DrosEU, http://droseu.net/). Various members of the consortium have collected flies from different places and inbred them in the lab to create a number of sets of genetically uniform lines. Photographs of females from each of the lines are already available, but need to be analysed. You will carry out image analysis in order to determine the degree of melanisation within each line, and analyse the data to determine 1) if there are significant differences among lines, which would indicate substantial genetic variation for this trait, and 2) whether degree of melanisation differs overall between populations, which would indicate local adaptation. Although the main focus of this work will be image analysis, there is also an option to learn some basic Drosophila maintenance techniques if desired.
Contact: Jessica Abbott Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org