My lab uses fruit fly populations to ask basic questions about the evolution of sex and death. The existence of separate sexes not only creates gender differences but potential conflict between them. We have been exploring sex differences, which naturally leads to special interests in specialized structures like sperm and sex chromosomes, which are current foci of study.
The lab will be accepting one or two students to Biology 537.
Potential projects include:
1) Sperm ecology and competition: When a female accepts mating with more than one male within the same breeding round, there is direct competition between them for fertilization events within the female reproductive tract. The mechanisms of sperm competition in Drosophila are fascinating and complex, and depend critically upon the complex structures of the female. We have adopted state-of-the-art (fluorescent sperm!) techniques to visualize sperm-female interactions. Several experiments related to storage, behavior andcompetition are possible. This wing of research will involve microscopy as well as breeding experiments.
2) Sexual Conflict: Genes that have reversed effects on the two sexes (e.g., good for females but bad for males) reflect genetic conflict. We have used clonal propagation and other genetic tricks with the fruit fly genome to examine this conflict.
START DATE: TBA