New Research Directions

Our lab is starting two new research directions as a result of interactions in our Integrated Bioscience PhD program. The first is an exploration of the ancient lake environments using clam shrimp fossils as indicators of earliest freshwater ecosystems (Hethke et al., 2019). Previous paleobiology works claim that these earliest freshwater systems were shallow, temporary environments based on analogies with current clam shrimp habitats. Our work suggests that lakes in which clam shrimp existed in the Lower Cretaceous in current China were in fact perennial rather than temporary. Faunal associations are low in diversity (e.g., primarily mayfly larvae, water boatman, and oligochaetes) with clam shrimp the dominant animal life.

The second is an exploration of the evolution of sex chromosomes in Eulimnadia texana. We have collaborated with Dr. Anthony Long (University of California, Irvine) and Dr. Jim Baldwin-Brown (University of Utah) who have sequenced Eulimnadia texana’s genome at UCI’s genomics cluster. Because of the unique sex determining system of these crustaceans, we can compare androdioecious to dioecious species in this family to assess the predicted processes of sex chromosome degradation. No other system allows such a comparison, and thus we plan to develop a comparative genomics data set to allow us to test various ideas on the evolution of the non-recombining regions of clam shrimp sex chromosomes.

If any of the above research topics interests you, please link to my bibliography page for access to the abstracts of this work and requests for reprints. If you are a student interested in possibly working on these or related topics, please e-mail me at the following address:

Interested PhD students should note our new Integrated Bioscience PhD program, which commonly includes teaching assistantships with a generous stipend plus tuition remission for 5 years.