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brief research overview

We are interested in the genetic and neural bases of sensory evolution.

• How do closely related species (or populations) come to differ in their ability to sense and/or respond to common environmental stimuli?
• What are the genes and neurons involved in these changes?
• What are the evolutionary forces governing the modifications?

We are also interested in evolutionary genomic topics, including local adaptation and the evolution of gene families.  These themes often overlap with our sensory biology questions and result in cross-disciplinary approaches that draw on tools from molecular neurogenetics, comparative genomics, and physiology.  Currently, the sensory modalities we are investigating are olfaction and temperature sensing, both of which evolve quickly and are often involved in local adaptation.  To do this work we utilize diverse Drosophila species and populations from around the globe.

projects

[more extended details on these projects will follow shortly]

1. evolution of new and lost neural circuits that accompany the increases & decreases in the chemosensory receptor superfamilies

2. local adaptation within chemosensory systems using whole genome data (SNP, indel, & CNVs) from fly populations sampled around the globe

3. mapping and functionally characterizing the genetic basis of sensory neuron population expansion

4. mapping and functionally characterizing the genetic basis of temperature preference evolution