Every year on the 12th of February, Charles Darwin’s birthday, the scientific community recognises Darwin Day. This is a celebration of evolutionary biology and all that we have learnt since Darwin introduced us to the concept of natural selection. To mark the event, the Institute holds an annual Darwin Lecture. This is a highly prestigious evening in the IBAHCM’s calendar, where a researcher at the forefront of their field is invited to present their work and share their insights on this foundational theory in biology.
This year we were honoured to host Prof. Sonia Sultan from Wesleyan University (Connecticut, USA). Prof. Sultan has gained a wealth of research experience over the course of more than two decades: she literally wrote the textbook on how organisms interact with their environments. Here, Prof. Sultan talks to us about her research on phenotypic plasticity and transgenerational effect in plants, and shares her thoughts on one of most controversial ideas currently circulating in mainstream evolutionary biology: the so-called ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’.
The feature image for this post shows two phenotypically different, yet genetically identical, individuals of Polygonum cespitosum. It was taken from: Sultan, S.E. and Matesanz, S. (2017) An ideal weed: plasticity and invasiveness in Polygonum cespitosum. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1360:101-19.