Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
The history, mating system, and MHC biology of tiger salamanders from Indiana
February 29, 2008
Engineering Building 110, 4:00 PM
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes help differentiate self from non-self, and their patterns of nucleotide substitution serve as classic examples of balancing selection at the molecular level. Beyond natural selection, some authors have argued that MHC genes are the target of sexual selection and that a variety of organisms (humans, mice, salmon) choose their mates based partly on MHC genotype. In theory, parents who mate disassortatively with respect to MHC can enhance the immunosurveillance of their progeny. However, MHC-based mate choice has rarely been critically evaluated. We characterized a key MHC gene in salamanders and then used genetic parentage analyses to test for MHC-based mate choice. These same genetic data, along with mitochondrial DNA sequences, were also used to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the population.
J. Andrew DeWoody is an Associate Professor of Genetics at Purdue University, where he joined the faculty in 2001. He received his B.S. from Texas A&M University, then earned an M.S. (also at A&M) in Genetics under the tutelage of Rodney Honeycutt and Loren Skow. Andrew’s Ph.D. in Zoology is from Texas Tech University, where he worked with a preeminent mammalogist (Robert Baker). DeWoody then did a 3-yr postdoc stint with an obscure geneticist named John Avise at the University of Georgia (Department of Genetics) At Purdue, DeWoody’s graduate students have worked in the fields of molecular evolution (Deb Triant), conservation biology (Dave Glista, Jamie Nogle, Jamie Rudnick, Ben Reinhart), and immunogenetics (Sara Turner and Joe Busch). His research has been funded by a variety of organizations including NSF, USDA-NRI, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the National Geographic Society, and the Joint Transportation Research Program.