Victoria Maureen Fowler, Rachel M. Stanojev, Ashley Violet Williams


Presentation: 10:45-12:00, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Animal morphological traits are patterned by Gene Regulatory Networks (GRNs) which include regulatory genes that pattern the expression of the trait-building realizator genes. The first and most well-studied GRNs were found to include dozens or more transcription factor encoding genes. The study of GRNs has moved to “evo-devo” model traits in recent years, for which the identify and function of obvious candidate genes has more or less been resolved. These successes present the next challenge, where the remainder of their GRNs need to be characterized but the candidate genes have been exhausted. If trait evolution is going to be understood at the scale of GRNs, then more complete GRN characterizations are an essential goal to be reached. One such evo-devo trait is the male-specific pattern of black pigmentation that develops on the posterior abdomen segments of Drosophila melanogaster and which evolved in the Sophophora subgenus of fruit flies. Several novel transcription factors have been identified whose loss-of-function perturbed pigmentation development. Here, we share our findings on the regulation, function, and evolution of the Hormone receptor 4 (Hr4) transcription factor gene. This work highlights the potential and challenges to an expansive understanding of GRNs and their evolution.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Tom M. Williams

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Scholarship; Practical Wisdom; Vocation

Insights on the role of the Hr4 transcription factor during the development and evolution of a sexually dimorphic fruit fly pigmentation trait