Genes often interact in complex and non-linear ways with their environment during development. This means that in some cases the roles that a gene plays can change depending on its developmental or environmental context. I will present research in my lab on ants and water striders that shows that genes can in fact play diametrically opposite functions depending on their developmental and/or environmental contexts. The medical, evolutionary, and philosophical implications of these results will be discussed.
Ehab Abouheif is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. He studied biology at Concordia University, Montreal (BSc, 1993), at SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, and at Duke University, Durham, NC. He was a post-doc in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago (2002-03) and in the Department of Integrative Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley (2003-04); Nipam Patel was his supervisor both in Chicago and Berkeley. From 2004 to 2010 he was Assistant Professor at McGill.