Phylogeny and Evolution of Unusual Genetic Systems in Armored Scale Insects

Ben Normark is an insect molecular systematist who is currently focused on the evolution of unique mechanisms of genetic inheritance. Ben’s recent research efforts include reconstructing the evolutionary histories (phylogenies) of groups of insects that can best be described as “legless, eyeless, parasitic blobs”, a.k.a. the armored scale insects. Molecular phylogenies are then used to investigate the evolution of sex, genetic conflict, and other bizarre phenomena (e.g. fatherless males, gender-bender cells, immortal heirloom organs, meddlesome symbionts, etc.) in these animals. Please join us and find out what this assemblage of minute creatures has revealed regarding animal sex and genetics.