Development, Sex Chromosomes, and Speciation

 

Understanding the origin of species remains a central goal of evolutionary biology. Hybrids provide powerful models to understand how functional divergence between genomes contributes to the process of speciation. We currently have projects in house mice, dwarf hamsters, and beetles focusing on 1) sex chromosome evolution, 2) the contribution of the sex chromosomes to reproductive isolation,  3) the role that disrupted gene regulation plays in the hybrid breakdown of spermatogenesis, and 4) the contribution of genomic imprinting to the disruption of embryonic growth pathways in hybrids. 

Adaptation to Changing Environments

  PHOTO: TOM BREKKE

PHOTO: TOM BREKKE

Many species experience heterogeneous environments that impose strong selection for locally adapted traits, often resulting in the maintenance of adaptive phenotypic variation. Local adaptation produces some of the most striking examples of phenotypic diversity, yet the evolution of locally adapted traits remains poorly understood.  We are actively pursuing research to understand 1) the evolution of seasonal camouflage and 2) genomic responses to climate changes in mammals.

We are using population and functional genomic approaches to facilitate genome-wide studies of genetic variation in natural population samples. A central focus of this work is to tailor next-generation sequencing methods (whole genome sequencing, exome capture, RNA-seq, RAD-seq) to non-model systems, including the use of DNA samples derived from historic museum collections to facilitate temporal contrasts between populations and genotype-phenotype associations. 

Hybridization and Ecological Speciation

 photo: Alex Badyaev/ tenbestphotos.com

photo: Alex Badyaev/tenbestphotos.com

Synergistic to our work on hybrid inviability and sterility, we have several research projects that use population genomic approaches to understand the contribution of hybridization to standing variation within species and the genomic architecture of reproductive isolation. This includes ongoing research in the Good lab on chipmunks and mountain pine beetles, and collaborative work on rabbits, humans, and the great apes.