Description: What are the developmental and genetic bases of evolutionary differences in morphology across species? Currently it is difficult to approach this question due to a lack of computational tools that allow researchers to integrate developmental genetic and comparative morphological/anatomical data.We are addressing this by developing a database of evolutionarily variable morphological characters for a large clade of fishes (the Ostariophysi) and connecting this database to the large collection of mutant phenotypes in the ZFIN database, the central database of the zebrafish model organism community. The evolutionary and mutant phenotypes are being described using common ontologies. The database with its web-interface, together with the extended ontologies and data curation tools, will allow researchers to ask novel questions about the genetic and developmental regulation of evolutionary morphological transitions. Tool and database development are being guided by use cases, or driving research questions, defined by the devo-evo community. These tools are being developed under an open-source, open-development model, and in such a way that they can be used for additional biological systems in the future. This project is a unique collaboration between evolutionary and model organism biologists including two national centers (NESCent and NCBO), the ZFIN model organism database, the Cypriniformes Tree of Life project, the DeepFin Research Coordination Network, and the morphological image databases used by the evolutionary biology community.
Institution: National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, University of South Dakota, University of Oregon, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Contacts: Paula Mabee, Monte Westerfield, Todd Vision, Hilmar Lapp, Wasila Dahdul, James Balhoff, Peter Midford
Home Page: http://www.phenoscape.org/