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SFB Polygenic adaptation: from single selected loci to the infinitesimal model


Most adaptation processes have a polygenic basis, which implies that many loci-typically of small effect-can respond to selection. The analysis of polygenic adaptation turned out to be so challenging that even despite the recent explosion of genomic data we are still lacking a general framework describing the dynamics of selected alleles in evolving populations.

The goal of this joint research program (SFB) is to develop a framework for understanding polygenic adaptation and to establish new standards for the analysis of adaptive polygenic traits in GWAS and experimental evolution studies.  We will combine model-based conceptual work and data-driven approaches from GWAS and experimental evolution to achieve this goal. The models and methods that will be developed integrate population genetic and quantitative genetic approaches to detect, analyze, and interpret genomic patterns of the “architecture of polygenic adaptation”. Custom-tailored GWAS experiments and experimental evolution studies will explore the influence of key population genetic factors (such as mode of selection, linkage, population structure and demography) on this architecture.

The innovative aspect of this SFB is the synergistic combination of theory, GWAS and experimental evolution in the context of polygenic adaptation. This project provides added value to the local community by bringing together an outstanding team of scientists with complementary expertise to tackle a question of common interest. The added value for the international community is the advancement of the field by the proposed project. Hence, by re-enforcing the collaboration of local experts with complementary expertise a substantial scientific advance is expected.