BCB Faculty Candidate - Lee Altenberg

January 16, 2016

Lee Altenberg will visit next week as a part of the BCB faculty cluster hire the College of LAS has granted to our program. Lee Altenberg is a Senior Fellow with the KLI Institute for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Biology, Klosterneuburg, Austria.  He has a strong focus in Mathematical Biology, and if he joins Iowa State, his appointment will be in the Mathematics Department.

BCB students will participate in a Wednesday, January 20th luncheon at noon in 2034 Molecular Biology Building.

Dr. Altenberg's seminar will be held on Tuesday, January 19, in 202 Carver Hall at 4:10.  The title is "The Deep Connection between Mutational Robustness and Mutational Time Dynamics" and the abstract is below.

BCB faculty who will be meeting with him during his visit include:  Bob Jernigan, BBMB Department, Dennis Lavrov, EEOB, Tom Peterson, GDCB, Karin Dorman, Statistics, Zhijun Wu, Mathematics, Jonathan Smith, Mathematics, Tracy Heath, EEOB, Xun Gu, GDCB and Oliver Eulenstein, Computer Science Department.

Seminar Information:

Title:  "The Deep Connection between Mutational Robustness and Mutational Time Dynamics"

Date/Location/Time: Tuesday, January 19 in 202 Carver Hall, 4:10 p.m.

Abstract: The production of genetic variation is essential for the evolutionary process, but inescapably much of this variation is deleterious, and depresses the average fitness of a population below its maximal value.  Haldane (1937) found for some simple models that, counterintuitively, this depression in fitness - the genetic load - was independent of the selection coefficients, and determined instead by the mutation rate.  Departures from Haldane's principle were found in 1999 due to the evolution of mutational robustness on neutral networks of genotypes.  The genetic load was found to be determined by the topology of the neutral network.  No quantification of how the topology determines the genetic load has been forthcoming.  Here, bounds are placed on the genetic load through the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the mutation matrix.  The treatment goes beyond neutral networks to arbitrary fitness landscapes and reversible mutation matrices. The mutational relaxation time for a perturbation of genotype frequencies has a direct relationship to the mutational robustness under the same perturbation of genotype fitnesses.  By taking a general approach, the behavior of different kinds of mutation - point mutation, copy number change, epigenetic mutation, as well as non-genetic information transmission such as dispersal - can be compared all within a unified framework, and their levels of robustness characterized.

Details from Dr. Altenberg's Website -- http://dynamics.org/Altenberg/:

My research focuses on the dynamics of evolutionary processes. I am particularly interested in higher order phenomena, such as the evolution of evolvability, the evolution of the genotype-phenotype map, including modularity, and the evolution of genetic systems. My work also addresses theoretical problems in evolutionary computation.

I have also worked in conservation on Maui as a part of what I consider to be an evolutionary biologist's professional obligation to preserve the products of evolution that bless Hawaii so remarkably.

Key Papers

Altenberg, L. 2012. Resolvent Positive Linear Operators Exhibit the Reduction Phenomenon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 109 (10): 3705-3710.

Altenberg, L. 2012. The Evolution of Dispersal in Random Environments and the Principle of Partial Control. Ecological Monographs 82(3): 297-333.

Wagner, G. P. and L. Altenberg. 1996. Complex adaptations and the evolution of evolvability. Evolution 50 (3): 967-976.

Altenberg, L. 1995. Genome growth and the evolution of the genotype-phenotype map. In Evolution and Biocomputation: Computational Models of Evolution, ed. Wolfgang Banzhaf and Frank H. Eeckman. Lecture Notes in Computer Science vol. 899. Springer-Verlag, pp. 205-259.