Some fundamental questions about the evolution of exaggerated traits are:
Over the past three decades, the Gerald Wilkinson laboratory at the University of Maryland, has used stalk-eyed flies from South East Asia as a model system for understanding several evolutionary processes. The eyes and antennae of these unique insects are laterally displaced on projections extending out from the central head. Unlike most other animals with exaggerated traits, stalk-eyed flies are easily reared in the laboratory.
The Evolution of Sex Differences stream addresses a fundamental question in the field of evolutionary development, “how does variation in gene expression affect the development of a sexually dimorphic trait?” We study gene expression in the eyestalks of dimorphic male and female flies in order to understand the connections between genes, development, traits, and evolution. The EET stream uses a combination of laboratory and computational approaches for our research. Students receive training in molecular biology, quantitative PCR assay design, bioinformatics, and statistical analysis – valuable skills for any student interested in a biomedical or biological science career.