Marcus Aguiar
Professor of Physics, Campinas State University (Brazil)

“Simulating the origin of species”

One of the greatest problems in evolutionary biology is to understand how new species arise from a common ancestor. Although the process of evolution by natural selection is well understood, the mechanisms that drive a species to branch out into two or more reproductively isolated groups are still not fully explained. Because evolution is usually very slow, taking millions of years, experiments are difficult to perform and computer simulations have become important tools. In this talk I will present a simple model that simulates the evolution of a population and that allows us to understand how variables such as mutation rate, geographic distribution and number of genes affect the formation of species. I will also show that it is possible to use these results to infer the evolutionary history of some real living species.