We take an integrative approach to studying the developmental and genomic basis of adaptation and speciation.
Evolution & development of butterfly scales
We are exploring the gene regulatory networks that modulate variation in wing scale morphology. Using CRISPR based gene editing and in situ hybridizations, we are characterizing the functional role of candidate genes in wing scale development. The ultimate goal of this research is to begin unravelling the genetic and developmental changes involved in the evolutionary origin of butterfly scales.
Development of sexually dimorphic butterfly wings
What are the genes that control butterfly wing pattern development? With a collaborative team, we've implicated the wnt signalling pathway, as well as several other genes, in wing pattern development. We are continuing to explore how these and other genes control the development of sexually dimorphic wing color patterns.
Regulatory nature of butterfly wings
Previously, the lab has leveraged natural hybrid zones to map the genomic regions responsible for the adaptive radiation of warning colors in Heliconius butterflies. Currently, we are building on those findings by using hybrid butterflies to characterize the regulatory modules and epistatic interactions that generate novel wing color patterns, using a combination of genome sequencing and CRISPR based genome editing.
The structure of wing coloration
Many colors of butterfly wings result from micro-structures on wing scales. Despite recent advances in understanding the genetic basis of pigment patterning, little is known about the genetic control of these structurally-based colors. We are using a combination of transcriptomics, genetic mapping, pharmaceutical assays and genome editting to characterize the genes and developmental pathways that generate structural coloration.