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Hanna Österman

PhD student

Over the course of evolution the architecture of the vertebrate heart has changed significantly. Most attention has been paid to the evolution of the chambers of the heart and separate pulmonary circulation which has made endothermia possible. The size of the heart has also changed significantly, an issue that has not received much attention, but that has also profound physiological effects, allowing increased metabolism and thus activity.  

Therefore my special interest is in the size of the heart. What genetic material has selection pressure been acting on to make the heart larger? Against a backdrop of what is known about genetic regulation of heart size I am using birds from the family Tinamidae (Tinamous), to answer the question. Tinamous have very small hearts, comparable to reptiles and only half, or even the quarter of the size of other birds. By comparing the genetic architecture and expression of genes known to play roles in heart size regulation, between Tinamou and domestic chickens, I hope to find this missing piece from the puzzle and contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of modern physiological traits.

Responsible for this page: Per Jensen
Last updated: 10/04/12