Biodiversity Genomics Lab
Welcome to Zhang's Lab
On the last page of The Origin of Species, Darwin writes that there is grandeur in the view that all of life had a single beginning from which evolved endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful. In the over 150 years that passed, biology has made tremendous progress understanding the pathways and molecular processes behind the diversification of the life forms, and evolution's fundamental genetic mechanisms that Darwin was unaware of became firmly established via the Neodarwinian synthesis in the first half of the 20th century. The second half of the 20th century added all aspects of social evolution to the Neodarwinian synthesis after W.D. Hamilton developed inclusive fitness theory in the 1960s and 1970s. In spite of these major developments we continue to know very little about the fundamental molecular processes that produce adapted phenotypes in response to variation in the physical and social environment of organisms. The next generation sequencing revolution has
demonstrated this very clearly in that we are now generating reference genomes at a higher rate that we can study how these blueprints translate in responses to natural selection, the adaptations arising from these responses, and the ultimate diversification and speciation processes that may or may not follow. We have developed and applied comparative genomic tools on high throughput '-omics' data to address the classical questions of diversification, adaptation and speciation across a broad spectrum of organisms. Our group is also interested in the evolution of eusocial insects and behaviors. We have initiated and participated in many comparative genomic studies in eusocial insects and now are focusing on the functional genomic study to understand how the genetic and epigenetic processes regulate the caste development and the behavioural plasticity in eusocial insects.
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