October 16, 2014 | Office of Sustainability
Tucked away inside 112 Galvin Life Science Center, you will find jugs of bubbling green solution containing single-celled algae. This is the food source for the daphnia colonies that are studied in the Evolutionary & Ecological Genomics Lab, led by Dr. Michael Pfrender.
The lab focuses on monitoring the effects of environmental stressors such as a changes in water, agriculture, climate, and invasive species on population-level ecosystem dynamics. The lab is unique in that they do not use toxins in their projects but focus on abiotic and biotic stressors.
One of the most intriguing projects surrounding their unique daphnia cultures focuses on the RNA transcriptome of several daphnia genotypes. Researchers can then view each clone’s life history and compare it with its genome to gain insights into the interactions of phenotype and genotype. In a second project with daphnia, the genomes of a UV-tolerant, one pigmented clone and a non-pigmented clone with DNA repair polymerase are being studied in order to trace the divergent evolution.