Bertalanffy Lecture for Laypersons and Experts: The Fruit Fly and its “Make-Up”
4 April 2014
The magnificent colour patterns on its wings make the fruit fly a prime candidate for the title of beauty queen: This “make-up” of the insect is a major research interest of Benjamin Prud’homme at the Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille (France). In two lectures at Heidelberg University he will be presenting results from his research dedicated to a genetic understanding of evolution and morphological diversity. Benjamin Prud’homme is the guest speaker holding the “Bertalanffy Lecture at COS”, organised by the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) and taking place on 10 and 11 April 2014. The lecture series sponsored by the Klaus Tschira Foundation is angled not only at experts in the field, it is also designed to reach out and communicate the frequently complex issues and research results to laypersons, notably pupils. The Bertalanffy Lecture thus provides a forum for the exchange between youngsters and scientists from various disciplines.
The importance of attractiveness is not something only we humans are aware of. Benjamin Prud’homme and his fellow scientists have been able to demonstrate that even the fruit fly has devised ways of making itself more alluring for the opposite sex by making use of a natural asset: a characteristic colour pattern on its wings. But how do such patterns develop in the course of evolution? What kind of switches are modified in the genome so that a spectacular pattern can be passed on to upcoming generations? Do similar patterns develop in different species of fly independently of one another by way of the same genetic modifications or is there more than one genetic-evolutionary route to “beauty queen” status? Benjamin Prud’homme has already devoted more than ten years research to these questions with a view to gain a molecular understanding of evolution and morphological diversity.
His lecture „How did the fly get its spot“ on 10 April is aimed at pupils in the last years of grammar school. Afterwards Benjamin Prud’homme and researchers from the Centre for Organismal Studies will join attendees for discussion in small groups. The event on 11 April is focused on the topic „The Regulatory Mechanism of Morphological Pattern Evolution“ and is reserved for scientists of the Heidelberg research hub. There will also be plenty of opportunity for discussion and knowledge exchange after the lecture.
Heidelberg University’s Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) is an interdisciplinary institution of zoology and plant sciences. The lecture series, begun in October 2012, is held in remembrance of Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972), a significant 20th century theoretical biologist and systems theorist. The next “Bertalanffy Lecture at COS” is scheduled for 18 and19 September of this year, when the guest speaker will be Prof. Dr. Andreas Trumpp of the German Cancer Research Center.
The Klaus Tschira Foundation supports the sciences, mathematics and computer science in research and teaching and is dedicated to enhancing the regard in which these subjects are held. The Foundation is active all over Germany from kindergarten and primary school level all the way up to universities and research institutions. The Foundation promotes innovative methods of communicating scientific facts.