Evolution of transposable element suppression
Transposable elements are constantly invading new genomes and causing turnover in the genomics systems tasked with their suppression. This incredibly rapid evolution effects even the most important transposable element suppression mechanisms, such as the somatic transposable element suppression locus, flamenco. While it was thought to be conserved amongst Drosophila species our most recent work has shown that within the simulans clade flamenco has diversified in structure and function, including duplicating in D. simulans and acting as a germline cluster in some tissues. My lab is interested in further characterizing the evolution TE suppression - how is it evolving amongst species, how are suppression loci specified in different tissues, and how is it effected by new transposable element invasions.
Epitranscriptomics and the role of RNA modification in adaptation
Understanding the genotype to phenotype map is one of the most fundamental goals of modern science, and in most cases the genotype to phenotype map remains opaque. One potential explanation for this lack of a clear connection between gene expression and final phenotype are secondary processes that determine where mRNA is localized, how it is exported from the nucleus, how long it is stable, and whether or not it is translated. This can include different types of RNA modification, including alternative 3’ polyadenylation, alternative splicing, and epigenetic modification. My lab incorporates all three of these RNA processing mechanisms and seeks to understand their role in adaptation. Currently we are working to understand the specificity of epitranscriptomic modifications in different tissues of Drosophila. We are also working to understand the role of alternative splicing and polyadenylation in adaptation to environmental perturbations.