Grant: $364,756 - National Science Foundation - Jun. 17, 2009
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Award Description: Biologists are making significant progress in understanding how changes in single genes allow organisms to cope with changing environments. However, it is still unknown how entire genomes - the total genetic information encoded in an organism's DNA - respond to novel conditions. In particular, it is unclear what proportion of genomic changes are parallel as compared to unique when independent populations adapt to similar environments. Studies of threespine stickleback fish provide an excellent opportunity to address this problem. Repeatedly, the ocean form of stickleback has invaded and become isolated in freshwater habitats. This has resulted in replicated patterns of divergence in traits such as bone size, coloration and mating behavior. The goal of this research is to analyze patterns of divergence across entire genomes of multiple populations of Alaskan oceanic stickleback that colonized freshwater ponds formed during a massive earthquake in 1964. Using cutting-edge sequencing technology and newly developed techniques for assaying genome-wide patterns of genetic variation, this project will address how similar the genomic responses of each population were to the novel freshwater habitats they colonized. This will be useful for understanding how genomic variation is crafted by environmental conditions. Also, this project provides a case study of the genomic changes during organismal responses to other natural and anthropogenic environmental changes. In particular, this research will provide insight into the genomic basis of how organisms respond to climate change, a critical conservation problem of our time.
Project Description: The purpose of this collaborative project (joint between the University of Oregon and the University of Alaska Anchorage) is to analyze patterns of divergence across entire genomes of multiple populations of Alaskan oceanic stickleback that colonized freshwater ponds formed during a massive earthquake in 1964. We are using cutting-edge sequencing technology and newly developed techniques for assaying genome-wide patterns of genetic variation to address how similar the genomic responses of populations are when populations adapt to novel freshwater habitats. Since this project just began, during the first quarter of the project, both universities identified and hired key personnel for the project as described in 'Description of jobs created and maintained' above. In addition we have identified several people who will be hired over the next several months. We have also generated preliminary DNA sequence data from several of the populations that are the focus of this study. These data have been used to make detailed plans about the chronology of work to be done. We have also held a research symposium of project personnel from both the University of Oregon and the University of Alaska Anchorage in order to assign tasks to individuals and groups and to implement research protocols to be used on both campuses. The meeting was held 9/25/09-9/30/09 in Anchorage. We have also organized samples for more efficient DNA extraction and amplification.
Jobs Summary: One research technician has been paid for 0.20 FTE in order to assist with genetic and databasing components of the project. One faculty member at University of Oregon has been paid for 0.16 FTE of full time work to supervise the project in summer 2009. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jun. 17, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.