SICB Division of Comparative Endocrinology (DCE)

DCE Researchers Database Entry

Thomas Flatt

Endocrinology of Life History and Aging
I study the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying the evolution of life history traits. How do life history traits evolve, within and among species, to generate phenotypic variation? What are the mechanisms regulating life history plasticity and trade-offs? My central focus is on understanding how hormonal signaling pathways (insulin, juvenile hormone, and ecdysone) affect the expression and evolution of aging and trade-offs between reproduction and lifespan, immune function, and somatic maintenance. To address these problems I use the tools of evolutionary genetics, molecular genetics, and physiology in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and closely related species.

Photographs
Left: Corpus allatum gland of an adult Drosophila female, the gland producing juvenile hormone, a major effector of development, metamorphosis, reproduction, and life span in insects. See Flatt et al. 2005 BioEssays for further details.

Right: Insulin producing cells (IPCs) in the brain of an adult Drosophila female; the IPCs are neurosecretory cells producing insulin-like peptides which have major effects on preadult growth, carbohydrate metabolism, reproduction, and life span. See Flatt et al. 2008 PNAS for further details.