Functional Analysis of Genome Structure
While current technology makes genome sequencing and editing accessible, many aspects of genome structure remain poorly understood. The soapberry bug, Jadera haematoloma, has 7 haploid chromosomes, of which one, the “m-chromosome” does not undergo recombination. This summer Dylan Yang ’23 and Charis Li ’23 will work to develop CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing for use in this species, with the goal of testing the expression and recombination of transgenic constructs from the Jadera m-chromosome, the X chromosome, and other autosomes. These results will provide in-sights into chromosome-level regulation of gene expression, with potential implications for our understanding of human conditions such as Down Syndrome.
Landscape Metagenomics of Maine Bumblebees
Bumblebees are charismatic animals that play a special role in the ecology of Maine. However, several species are currently experiencing population declines due to pesticide exposure, the spread of bee-specific diseases and habitat destruction. Previous work by my lab group has found that Maine islands harbor unique assemblages of bumblebee species, and detected the presence of known pathogens. From previous summers, we have collected geospatial data on bumblebee distributions, species IDs, and gut microbiome composition. During the summer of 2021, Charis Li ’23 and Dylan Yang ’23 and will work to advance this project in several ways: (1) they will continue collections of bumblebees from key field sites, such as Colby’s campus and Allen Island; (2) they will conduct an integrative analysis of geospatial and microbiome data, to examine patterns of diversity; (3) they will build on our present outreach website, which provides community reporting of project data, now at https://hobbes.colby.edu/bee.map/.
Evolutionary and Functional Genomics of Animal Weapons
Sexually selected weapons are among the most extreme and diverse morphologies in the animal world. They are often massive in size and grow drastically out of proportion with the body. It is therefore unsurprising that weapons have captured the attention of biologists for centuries. Yet, despite this interest, fundamental questions of their evolution and development remain. My lab group is currently conducting a large-scale artificial selection experiment on the developmental mechanisms regulating weapon growth in the broad-horned flour beetle, Gnathocerus cornutus. During the summer of 2021, Pilar Fuentes ’22 will help in the analysis of high-throughput genome mapping data (RAD-seq) from divergent selection lines, preform follow-up measurements of gene expression, and test the function of specific genes using methods such as RNA interference and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing.