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Lab ImageBillie J. Swalla

University of Washington
Biology Department
Box 351800
Seattle, WA 98195-1800


Taxa Studied: Invertebrate Animals
Techniques Employed: Degenerate PCR, Quantitative PCR (qPCR), Sanger Sequencing, Solexa (Illumina) Sequencing, In Situ Hybridization, Antibody Staining, Sectioning for Histology, Confocal Microscopy, Time-Lapse Microscopy, Morpholinos
Research Description: My research is focused on a complex, interdisciplinary biological question. When and how did chordates evolve? Our collective goal is to understand the evolution of the chordate body plan, a complex problem that requires interdisciplinary research. We combine methods and approaches in phylogenetics, development, ecology and evolution to study the evolution of this unique body plan from a deuterostome ancestor. My research compares the genes and genomes of these invertebrates, which are related to us. We look at similarities as a way of telling which groups are related to the other groups, and examine the expression of homologous genes in order to see how genes may be used in a similar way, or co-opted for different functions.We believe that the deuterostome ancestor was a burrowing worm, with gill slits and a cartilaginous skeleton (Swalla and Smith, 2008).
Lab Web Page: http://faculty.washington.edu/bjswalla/
Willing to Host Undergraduates: YES
Actively Seeking Undergraduates: YES
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