Darwin Keynote

Double Helix Day

Double Helix day is in recognition of the discovery of the shape of DNA. It honors James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins. This discovery has lead scientists in a quest to identify and understand an organism’s genome.

Tuesday April 14, 2015
Seminar begins at 4pm in S012
(cookies at 3:30)

"The genetic basis of life-history variation and adaptation to temperate environments in Drosophila"
Dr. Alan Bergland
Department of Biology
Stanford University

Dr. Bergland's research seeks to identify the genetic and physiological basis of naturally segregating variation in fitness traits and to resolve how spatial and temporal variation in selection pressures acts to maintain this genetic variation in the wild. As an undergraduate at the University of Oregon in William Bradshaw and Christina Holzapfel’s lab (2000-2004), he assessed the ecological determinants of fitness in a wild population of pitcher plant mosquitos (Wyeomyia smithii) at a bog in northern Wisconsin. During his PhD at Brown University in Marc Tatar’s lab (2004-2010), he sought to identify the genetic basis of naturally segregating variation in life-history traits in Drosophila melanogaster. As a part of this work, he mapped genetic variation in female fecundity to a single gene, Drip, and demonstrated that allelic variation at this locus affects reproductive output via modulation of the endocrine system. As a post-doc at Stanford in Dmitri Petrov’s lab and in close collaboration with Paul Schmidt at U Penn (2010-current), he investigated the genetic basis of adaptation to temperate environments in Drosophila. We have discovered that hundreds of polymorphic loci contribute to rapid and cyclic adaptation in response to seasonal fluctuations in selection pressure and that environmental heterogeneity through time and space has likely maintained allelic variation at these loci for millions of generations, if not millions of years. Currently, he is working to determine the phenotypic, physiological, and molecular effect of these evolutionarily important polymorphisms and to resolve how strong and cyclic adaptation at these loci affects patterns of neutral genetic variation genome-wide. In addition to his main research projects with Drosophila, he is also examining the genetic and physiological basis and ecological consequences of adaptation to spatial and temporal variation in predation regime in Daphnia pulex in collaboration with Andrew Beckerman (Univ. of Sheffield, UK) as well as the evolutionary history of the white-throated sparrow with Chris Balakrishnan (East Carolina Univ) and Elaina Tuttle & Rusty Gonser (ISU).

To learn more about Dr. Bergland's research visit his Laboratory at

Past Speakers

2013, Dr. Milan Radovich

2011, Dr. Wes Warren

2010, Dr. Oliver A. Ryder

2009, Dr. John Avise

2008, Dr. Teri Lear

2007, Dr. Ripan Malhi

2006, Dr. Loren Rieseberg