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Research GELIFES

GELIFES Seminars - Simon Sin

When:Th 15-04-2021 13:00 - 14:00

Simon Sin (Hong Kong University)

From genes to behaviour

Genetic basis of mate choice and inbreeding depression in a highly olfactory procellariiform seabird

How does the genotype of an individual affect its fitness and mate choice is a central question in evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology. In this study, we investigated the possibility of inbreeding in a population of pelagic seabird to determine whether mild levels of inbreeding can still have genetic and phenotypic consequences. This procellariiform seabird is socially monogamous, and mating pairs may have a lifelong relationship. Therefore we were interested to determine how did they select their mates. In particular, we investigate if the MHC genes, a gene family that plays an important role in the immune system, influenced the mate choice behaviour. In contrast to the general understanding, we identified males to be the choosers. Procellariiform seabirds have an extraordinary sense of smell, and the mate choice behaviour may act via an olfactory cue. We also investigated the olfactory receptor repertoire in this species and uncover the possible reason for their good olfactory capability. Together, these results provide an example of how the underlying genotypes of an animal can affect its behaviour and fitness.

Simon Sin is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Simon joined the University of Hong Kong in 2018 after completing his postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and his DPhil in the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford. Research in the Sin lab focuses on addressing key questions in evolution and behavioural ecology, and uses multi-disciplinary approaches to understand how genetics affects phenotypic traits and behaviours. His research topics include mate choice, animal behaviour, animal coloration, host-pathogen co-evolution, gene family evolution, genotype-phenotype association, and conservation genomics. He studies both natural and captive non-model organisms. Currently, most of his projects are on birds and mammals.

Link to seminar