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Hutton Seminar Series: Understanding trade-offs and their importance for ecological processes

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Hutton Seminars
13 November 2017, 1pm
at James Hutton Institute, New Seminar Room (Dundee) and Macaulay B (Aberdeen)
for scientists, students, researchers and anyone interested
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Trade-offs are key ingredients of many major ecological theories, such as co-existence theories or theories explaining positive biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning. Often, however, we have only limited knowledge of the (molecular) mechanisms that underlie trade-offs, and we poorly understand to what extent they are actually important to explain ecological processes.

In this Hutton Seminar, Dr Samuel Wuest (University of Zurich) will show how we can use genetics to probe into the curious world of trade-offs and gain a deeper understanding of constraints on trait optimisation. Secondly, he is establishing quantitative genetic approaches to study positive diversity effects on productivity in plant communities. He will show that allelic diversity at discrete loci can drive such effects, and present a hypothesis of what trade-offs and mechanisms could be important for their emergence and will finally discuss the implications of these findings for breeding strategies. 

Dr Wuest is an ecological geneticist currently working as a group leader at the University of Zurich. He is intrigued by the curious world of trade-offs, i.e. i) the nature of constraints on plant trait (co-)variation, ii) the genetic basis of trade-offs, and iii) the importance of the latter for fundamental ecological processes. His work combines tools and concepts from community ecology, quantitative/molecular genetics and developmental genomics. In the latter, he received formal training during an MSc at the University of Zurich and a PhD at Trinity College Dublin.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.