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Artyom Kopp

University of California - Davis
One Shields Ave
Davis, CA 95616

530 752-8657

Taxa Studied: Invertebrate Animals
Techniques Employed: Quantitative PCR (qPCR), Microarrays, Solexa (Illumina) Sequencing, QTL Mapping, SNP Mapping, In Situ Hybridization, Antibody Staining, Confocal Microscopy, Transgenesis, Mutagenesis, Other, RNA interference(RNAi), Laser capture microdissection
Research Description: Research in our lab spans the boundaries between evolution, development, and molecular genetics. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms of evolutionary changes in morphology, behavior, and ecological adaptations. We use developmental genetics and genomics to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular pathways that control animal form and function. At the same time, comparative approaches help us understand how these pathways evolve, and what changes in these pathways are responsible for the origin and diversification of new structures and processes. Ultimately, we want to understand how changes in DNA affect development and cell differentiation to produce new phenotypes, and determine the roles of selection and demographic forces in shaping the evolution of developmental pathways. Our work has several defining features. First, we look at the evolution of pathways, not individual genes. Second, our studies are guided by explicit phylogenetic hypotheses, and we seek out traits that have undergone multiple evolutionary changes in the clade of interest. We do not ask ??what genes are responsible for the phenotypic differences between two species??, but rather ??how has the structure of regulatory pathways evolved on the multi-species phylogeny??. Third, we focus on traits that vary on both micro- and macroevolutionary timescales, hoping to bridge the divide between developmental and population genetics. Three questions interest us especially. The first is the origin of evolutionary innovations ?? we try to understand how new developmental pathways are assembled from pre-existing genes and modules to specify traits that have no homologues in other lineages. The second is the extent to which the structure of developmental pathways affects the genetic basis of evolutionary change. To address this question, we study instances of parallel evolution and test whether similar phenotypic transitions are caused by changes in the same genes or pathway linkages. Finally, we have a particular interest in sexual dimorphism, and look at how the evolution of regulatory interactions between the sex determination pathway and spatial patterning genes leads to the origin and loss of sex-specific traits. We address these questions using various Drosophila species as models. Over 3000 species of Drosophila and related genera provide an enormous source of morphological, ecological, and behavioral diversity. At the same time, the genetic and molecular tools available in flies are unrivaled in their power to examine and manipulate the molecular pathways that generate this diversity. We focus on groups of closely related species that have distinct phenotypes yet often retain the ability to hybridize. Most of our work is in the melanogaster species group, which is close to the main experimental model D. melanogaster and will soon have 15 completely sequenced genomes including all of our favorite model species.
Lab Web Page: http://www.eve.ucdavis.edu/kopplab/
Willing to Host Undergraduates: YES
Actively Seeking Undergraduates: NO
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