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Population Genomics of microorganisms and their hosts in health and disease Current Research

Transcriptional profiling of Brown Bears

Brown bear experiences three major physiological seasons during a year: i) an active season; ii) a season of hyperphagia that precedes iii) the hibernation season. In collaboration with professors Charlie RobbinsHeiko Jansen, and Joanna Kelley we are constructing, for the first time, a complete picture for the transcriptional profile of a large number of tissues during the period of hibernation. This project is part of a larger endeavor aimed at understanding genetically controlled changes in the physiology that are experienced by brown bears in response to seasonal changes. For this, we are performing RNA-sequencing of multiple tissues to build a transcriptional map of the genes in most organs. In addition to this research we are performing studies to try understand how the changes in microbiome composition (in mouth, stomach and small intestine) are associated to the differences in physiology in different seasons.

For more information on the bears, I encourage you to take a look at the Bear Research, Education and Conservation Center at WSU




Penguins Population Genomics

Penguin Genomics

We are collaborating with Eli Poulin and Julianna Vianna at Universidad Catolica de Chile in the analysis of Penguin genomics. Dally Noll is a PhD student currently analyzing Gentoo Penguin populations and looking for signatures of selection. Fabiola Leon is working with Magellanic Penguins, Humboldt Penguins, Galapagos Penguin and South African Penguin in an attempt to make sense of the process of diversification of the Spheniscus genus.

Penguins are a great system to try to understand adaptations to climate changing conditions in the last 5000 years. A question we will be looking into more detail in the coming years!

Gentoo Penguin

By Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Magellanic Penguin

By Martin St-Amant (S23678) – Own work (Martin St-Amant), CC BY-SA 3.0,

Humboldt Penguin

By en:User:Cburnett – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Relevant publications