Günter Wagner is Professor in and Chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Yale University.
Professor Wagner is interested in complex adaptive systems -- biological and artificial -- with a focus on their evolutionary dynamics. Among his specific areas of interest are the study of modularity, multilocus systems, gene regulatory networks, units of selection, the causes of irreversibility, and quantitative genetics.
The empirical work in his lab concentrates on the evolution of developmental regulation. In particular, he is interested in how the evolution of Hox gene function in lower vertebrates (fish and amphibians) is related to the acquisition and adaptation of morphological characters. The model systems are the Ant- and AbdB-like homeobox genes and their role in evolutionary innovation. For instance, Hox genes are known to be involved in limb differentiation and development. His lab compares the expression of Hox genes between the primitive limbs of salamander and the highly derived limbs of frogs to seek genetic correlates of morphological innovations. In another project, his lab studies the evolutionary history of Hox genes in primitive vertebrates and their correlation with the emergence of the developmental body plan of higher vertebrates.