Mitochondrial-nuclear interactions: using physiology to understand complexity in genetics and evolution

29 September 2017

Kristi Montooth
School of Biological Sciences
University of Nebraska – Lincoln


Context-dependent effects of genetic variation that arise as a consequence of epistasis (G x G interactions) or the environment (G x E) create dynamic genotype-phenotype relationships that can challenge both the efficacy of natural selection and our ability to predict disease. I will present cases where we have combined physiological models with evolutionary genetic approaches in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster to illuminate the biology underlying complex, higher-order interactions between genes, genomes and environments. This will include our physiological dissection of functional interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, and our ongoing use of metabolic control theory to predict physiological performance from variation in biochemical pathways. I will advocate for small-scale "systems genetic" approaches that focus on candidate physiologies as a path forward in understanding genetic complexity – an approach that has enabled collateral findings that range from patterns of genomic molecular coevolution to models for disease penetrance.

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