Disjunction, dispersal and temporal patterns of insect distribution
Brüstle supervised by Prof. Juha Merila, Dr Jyrki Muona and
Dr José Canoarias
University of Helsinki, Department of Biological & Environment Sciences
Age is a much talked about aspect of our society. Meeting someone new, we can almost be certain that they will be interested in our name and our age. Therefore, it is not surprising that these matters are also of interest to scientists, not only regarding humans, but concerning the whole tree of life. Thus the concept of the molecular clock, allowing the calculations of the divergence times and origin of different organisms on the basis of changes in their genes, was embraced with excitement.
Unfortunately, with the advances of molecular techniques it had to be realized that the calibration of an organism's age is not so straightforward. Questions arose to whether not only one but several molecular clocks act or even whether no clock, able to accurately calibrate age of organisms, exists at all.
False-click beetles and scarabs show a wide distribution identical with the Gondwanian tectonic break-up. Based on this background knowledge, I will analyse whether genes depict this history, thus supporting the molecular clock as a means to measure age or whether no such signal can be found. Either way, I hope to shed some light onto how the molecular clock is ticking.