Department of Biological Sciences
Tracking the Evolutionary History of an Adaptive Allele
Monday, November 4th, 2013
Academic Building A G008, 5:00 PM
A primary focus of evolutionary genetic research in the last decade has been the search for genes associated with adaptive traits, and several well-characterized systems have emerged. As these examples continue to accumulate, we are beginning to gain insight into higher order questions at the intersection of ecology, evolution, and developmental biology. For example, when the same traits arise multiple times across groups of species, can we predict the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms involved? Do patterns of predictability reveal the genetic constraints that populations experience during the process of adaptation? If so, how does evolutionary history impact these constraints? In the wildflower species Mimulus aurantiacus, we have characterized the ecological, genetic, and molecular basis of an adaptive shift in flower color. The identity and function of the underlying gene provides support for a striking case of genetic convergence. In addition, we are currently using a comparative approach to trace the evolutionary history of this adaptive allele. These efforts aim to establish the source of this adaptive variation, and explore how developmental pathways and their regulatory systems are manipulated during the emergence of an adaptive trait.
I have just recently begun as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University. I am inspired by the tremendous biological diversity found across all forms of life, and my research focuses on the underlying processes of adaptation and speciation. I use a wide variety of techniques to characterize the ecological, genetic, and molecular basis of adaptive traits, especially when associated with the emergence of reproductive isolation between recently diverged species. I use the wildflower genus Mimulus as my primary study system, and I have gained experience working with many species across this diverse and fascinating group. I previously held a position as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oregon, which I began after completing my PhD in the Plant Biology Department and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University in 2010. I received my BS in Biology from Western Michigan University in 1998.
Sobel, J. M., and M. A. Streisfeld. 2013. Flower color as a model system for studies of plant evo-devo. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:321.
Streisfeld, M. A., W. N. Young, and J. M. Sobel. 2013. Divergent selection drives genetic differentiation in an R2R3-Myb transcription factor that contributes to incipient speciation in Mimulus aurantiacus. PloS Genetics 9:e1003385.
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