Shawn Trojahn details his work using grizzly bear transcriptomics to compare gene expression in the hibernating versus active phases of a bear’s life.
Various animals have colonized caves, and in the course of evolution, many have lost their eyes. We still do not fully understand how the loss of an entire organ unfolds as organisms adapt to dark caves. In this study, Ph.D. student Kerry McGowan and colleagues examined a small fish, the cave molly, that colonized caves relatively recently and exhibits functional eyes that are reduced in size. Using gene expression analyses, McGowan et al. showed that several eye-related genes are expressed less in cave mollies compared to their surface ancestors. Evolution has modified many of these genes in other completely blind cavefishes, suggesting that cave adaptation may occur in similar fashions.
McGowan KL*, Passow CN, Arias-Rodriguez L, Tobler M, Kelley JL. 2019. Expression analyses of cave mollies (Poecilia mexicana) reveal key genes involved in the early evolution of eye regression. Biol Lett. 15(10):1-7.
A cavefish from the Cueva del Azufre system in southern Mexico.
Note the small eye. PC: Michael Tobler.
Permanent ice cover by glaciers and snowfields is a dominant physical force in mountain ecosystems. From an ecological perspective, constant ice cover places harsh controls on life including cold temperature, limited nutrient availability, and often prolonged darkness due to snow cover for much of the year. Despite these limitations, glaciers, and perennial snowfields support diverse, primarily microbial communities. In a new review, postdoc in the lab Scott Hotaling and colleagues we synthesize existing knowledge of ecological stoichiometry, nutrient availability, and food webs in the mountain cryosphere (specifically glaciers and perennial snowfields).
Ren, Z.*, Martyniuk, N.*, Oleksy, I.A.*, Swain, A.*, & Hotaling, S.† (2019) Ecological stoichiometry of the mountain cryosphere. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:360. *co-first author; †corresponding author
Thrilled that our paper on gene expression changes in brown bears during hibernation is out today in @CommsBio with co-authors Shawn Trojahn, Heiko Jansen, Omar Cornejo, Charlie Robbins, and others. #WSUbears A link to the article is here: rdcu.be/bQ077
- Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too? NYTimes
- Grizzlies show remarkable gene control before and during hibernation Phys.org
- Grizzly research reveals remarkable genetic regulation during hibernation Science Daily
- WSU grizzly research reveals remarkable genetic regulation during hibernation 7th Space Family Portal
- Genetic Preparation for Hibernation Is Key for Grizzly Bears Technology Networks
- Fascinating ways animals prepare for fall National Geographic
- Fascinating ways animals prepare for autumn MSN
- Could hibernation help reduce obesity? BioTechniques
Joanna is a co-PI on the Evolution in Changing Seas RCN and spent the week at the Synthesis Workshop at Shoals Marine Lab. It was a diverse group of marine and evolutionary biologist who are coming together to develop integrated frameworks for studying adaptation to ocean change. There is a great writeup in the Molecular Ecologist about the workshop.
Graduate student Alex Fraik started her 6 month NSF funded internship with Krista Nichols at NOAA. While most of her project will be analyzing existing datasets on fish before and after dam removal, she had a chance to participate in some fieldwork.
Joanna Kelley presented at the NHGRI Comparative Genomics Workshop in Bethesda, MD. It was a fantastic event bringing together ~115 genome biologists from around the country to discuss comparative genomics and the NHGRI strategic plan as it relates to comparative genomics. The schedule of speakers is here: https://www.genome.gov/event-calendar/perspectives-in-comparative-genomics-and-evolution
You can view Joanna’s talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bQvTevtGM4
You can view the moderated discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzGdDLAGR10
Congratulations to Dr. Joanna Kelley and Dr. Michi Tobler for received funding for their Rules of Life proposal. The proposal is jointly funded by the NSF Division of Integrative Organismal Systems and Division of Environmental Biology. The grant Extreme Environments, Physiological Adaptation, and the Origin of Species (with Michael Tobler) will fund research on fish that have adapted to sulfidic springs throughout the Americas.
A sulfidic spring in southern Mexico (above).
Thrilled to announce that our NSF proposal to study polar fish genome evolution has been funded!! Co-written with postdoc Scott Hotaling! The award abstract is located here: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1906015
Congratulations to Scott Hotaling for receiving The Company of Biologists Travelling Fellowship! Scott will use the award to work with Katie Marshall at University of British Columbia to study thermal tolerance in ice worms!