Seminar: From alpine beetle populations to Cretaceous moth radiation: can we connect the dots between microevolution and macroevolution?

OIST Main Campus (C700)

Abstract Population genetics and phylogenetics are two main subfields of evolutionary genetics. The former investigates the genetic variations among populations within a species while the latter focuses on reconstructing phylogeny of many species using genetic data. In this presentation, I will present my previous work on the population genetics of an alpine ground beetle, Nebria ingens complex, in the Sierra Nevada in California and my current work on the deep evolutionary history of species radiation of Lepidoptera. In the alpine ground beetle study, I used genome-wide variants to characterize the population structure and demographic history. I found that the glacial refugia was in the low-elevation drainage basins of Sierra Nevada during the last glacial maximum, followed by the postglacial recolonization to the current high-altitude alpine zone. I also used genome-wide association approaches to identify the genes putatively associated with the postglacial elevational range shift, local adaptation to the heterogeneous environments, and the morphological variations. For the study of Lepidoptera species radiation, I use published high-quality lepidopteran genomes to explore the genomic evidence related to rapid diversification of modern lepidopteran lineages. The preliminary results suggest that the gene evolution involving host plant detection, phytocompound detoxification, and protein digestion play crucial roles in species diversification along with the Angiosperm radiation. Finally, I will provide my personal perspective on connecting population genetics (microevolution) and phylogenetics (macroevolution) for a more thorough understanding of evolutionary processes.

About Dr. Yi-Ming Weng: Yi-Ming was born and brought up in Taiwan. He graduated from National Chung-Hsing University for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Entomology department. He is interested in insect biodiversity and evolution in general. For his master thesis, he studied phylogeography of alpine ground beetles in Taiwan, looking for sharing evolutionary history between the alpine ground beetle species with similar ecological niche and geographical distribution. Yi-Ming started his PhD carrier in the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. He worked with Professor Sean Schoville to further study the evolutionary history of alpine ground beetle from the Sierra Nevada in California using genomic data. By the time he started to develop his skillsets in bioinformatics and genomics. Now Yi-Ming is working with Professor Akito Kawahara in the University of Florida as a postdoctoral researcher studying evolutionary genomics of Lepidoptera.

Despite Yi-Ming has been working mostly with computers for his bioinformatics analyses, he is most interested in outdoor activities and direct observation of insects. He believes that good biological questions usually come from the field, and stepping out to touch the insects gets the best inspiration.