Assistant Professor Suzanne McGaugh

CBS Ecology, Evolution & Behav
College of Biological Sciences
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Molecular Evolution of Vertebrates

This lab has several ongoing projects:

  • Large-scale population genomics effort using Illumina resequencing in the Astyanax cavefish shotgun genomes: Cavefish have distinct phenotypes from surface conspecifics and are emerging models for research on obesity, retinal degeneration, and sleep disorders. These researchers are assaying for convergent and divergent evolutionary signatures across two separate evolutionary orgins of the cavefish and examining candidate genes. They have found some promising results, but will continue building this project over the next one-two years by adding populations and using a new PacBio-based reference assembly. In particular, they are analyzing premature termination codon variants found via population genomic analyses with CRISPR. They will also be adding many new genomes this year, including 10X genomics sequences.
  • Examination of genetic link between sleep and feeding in cavefish: The researchers process RNA-seq data and GBS linkage maps.
  • Investigation of how pathways evolved between reptiles and mammals: The researchers have completed a deep-time selection analyses on the insulin signaling network (published in PNAS in 2015). They found evidence of potential subfunctionalization between key proteins at the top of the insulin signalling network.  A follow-up project was published in Biology Letters in 2017 that addresses how uncoupling proteins (involved in thermogenesis) have evolved. A similar project analyzes how the P53 pathway, a major cancer and cell cycle regulator, has evolved in amniotes. Finally, work is ongoing to examine lineage-specific gene loss among key lineages of vertebrates.

This research was featured on the MSI website in March 2015: New Data Storage Option for MSI Researchers and in November 2014: Blind Cavefish Genome.

Project Investigators

Audra Andrew
Alexandra Donny
Danielle Drabeck
Adjunct Prof Lex Flagel
Joshua Gallop
Marco Antonio Garduno Sanchez
Erin Gilbertson
Joshua Gross
Adam Herman
Thomas Kono
Assistant Professor Suzanne McGaugh
Chloe Michalak
Patrick Monnahan
Rachel Moran
Blair Perry
Jenna Robinson
Eli Swanson
Nathan Swanson
Samuel Weaver
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