E&E Seminar: Molecular mechanisms underlying rapid evolution during invasion

Exotic invasions offer an ideal opportunity to investigate evolution, which often occurs rapidly when organisms are introduced to novel environments. Although ecological correlates of invasion success are well-studied, our knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms is poor. In this talk, I will present recent findings from our research group regarding the roles of genetic and epigenetic change in two highly successful invaders, cane toads and starlings. I will also discuss potential holobiont interactions during invasion, which may promote invasion success. In combination, our research indicates that the genetics and epigenetics of invasive populations may influence rapid evolution during invasion.


Lee Rollins is a Scientia Associate Professor in the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at UNSW Sydney. She was awarded a PhD from UNSW in Conservation Genetics in 2009 and is the recipient of fellowships from Deakin University (2012), the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher scheme (2015), and the UNSW Scientia Scheme (2017). She is the current President of the Genetics Society of Australasia. Her research investigates genetic and epigenetic drivers of evolution during exotic species invasion using species like cane toads and starlings. She is keen to understand how environmental factors affect genome function across generations, a topic that likely impacts all organisms on our planet.