Art Woods, Marty Martin
Can genes in single species act as keystones in ecosystems? What is AOP2, and how does it affect community composition and persistence?
In this episode, we talk to Matt Barbour, a professor at the University of Sherbrooke, about “keystones” in biology. You’re probably familiar with the keystone species concept, but Matt’s research focuses on whether genes can play a similarly fundamental role in an ecosystem. In an incredible set of experiments, Matt and his colleagues used simple experimental food webs to find that the stability of these miniature complex systems was strongly associated to the genotype at one specific locus in the plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, called AOP2. The particular genetic variant led to complete breakdown of community stability, imbuing that gene with a keystone-like function.
We talk to Matt about his recent publication in the journal Science and discuss how results from his simple lab setup relates to keystone effects in natural communities.
Length of Episode
46 minutes, 15 seconds
Digital File Format
Woods, Art and Martin, Marty, "Episode 089: How one gene determines the fate of a food web (with Matt Barbour)" (2022). BigBiology Podcasts. 91.