Spokony Lab

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Research Focus

Many insects have an extreme version of plasticity called polyphenism, exhibiting new body parts in response to nutritional availability or crowding. These alternative morphologies are often controlled by a small molecule called juvenile hormone. Despite being a system-wide hormonal signal, only certain tissues respond to temporal and titer changes of juvenile hormone. My research aims to elucidate the genetic basis of juvenile hormone sensitivity in Drosophila melanogaster and use this as a model for the developmental control of polyphenisms in hexapoda. I am currently determining the range of natural variation in hormone sensitivity. I plan to perform a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) to determine the genetic architecture of this phenotypic variation and establish the role of the genes targeted by the polymorphisms. Interpreting the functional importance of polymorphisms is greatly aided by the high quality annotations of the Drosophila melanogaster genome, in particular histone marks and transcription factor binding sites determined by the modENCODE project.

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