Duffy, Aaron M. .
Simulating fern lifecycles and population genetics in a 3-dimensional virtual world.
Understanding the population genetics of ferns is complicated by variations in mating systems, lifecycles, and the potential for differential selection between lifestages. Methods of simulating fern population genetics need to incorporate this variation. We present a system for simulating populations of organisms in a 3-dimensional virtual world, built on the open source OpenSimulator 3D Application Server. The simulated organisms have a fern-like lifecycle of independent, alternating, haploid and diploid generations which can be adjusted to include a range of mating systems and lifecycles. Each individual's fitness in each lifestage is determined by the interaction of its genome (up to 15 unlinked loci) with the environment. The base OpenSimulator system provides environmental variation in wind, elevation, slope/aspect, and changing seasons (sun angle), and custom modules allow other independent or interrelated factors such as cloud cover, precipitation, temperature, ground moisture, and fluctuating sea levels. Population data reported real-time include the number of individuals in each lifestage, allele, haplotype, and genotype frequencies, and the expected frequencies assuming Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Data can be viewed in-world or downloaded for use in analytical software packages. Simulations on this platform have predictive value in studies of dispersal and colonization, species with atypical or variable lifecycles (apospory, apogamy, production of gemmae, etc.), differential selection or fitness tradeoffs between lifestages, variable mating systems, the effects of environmental change, and general population genetics in ferns. Visitors to the virtual world can walk through and interact with the population and each other, allowing unique opportunities for data visualization and education. An example of the simulation platform is open to visitors on the ScienceSim Grid (http://www.sciencesim.com/scisim/).
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1 - Utah State University, Department of Biology, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah, 84322, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Location: Alpine B/Snowbird Center
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009
Time: 8:15 AM