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Stuart McDaniel

University of Florida
Box 118525
Carr Hall, Newell Dr
Gainesville, FL 32611

352 273 0123

Taxa Studied: Plants
Techniques Employed: Sanger Sequencing, Bioinformatics/Sequence Analysis, QTL Mapping, SNP Mapping
Research Description: Research in the McDaniel lab is directed towards understanding the genetics of adaptation and reproductive isolation. Understanding these processes is key for identifying factors that contribute to the generation and maintenance of biodiversity. We focus on sex-ratio distortion, hybrid incompatibility, and the evolution of sex chromosomes, using the moss model system Ceratodon purpureus and its relatives. Sex ratio distortion In species with separate sexes, the proportion of male and female offspring may deviate from the expected 1:1 sex ratio. Paradoxically, natural selection can favor the evolution of sex ratio distorters even though the carriers of these alleles suffer reduced fertility. In natural populations of C. purpureus, population sex ratios are often female-biased. We are using classical genetics combined with surveys of natural populations to understand the molecular basis of sex ratio distortion (McDaniel et al. 2007), as well as the ecological or population genetic conditions that favor distorted sex ratios (McDaniel 2005). Hybrid incompatibility Hybrids between diverged populations or species are frequently sterile or suffer other developmental abnormalities. We now know that in crosses between diverged populations of C. purpureus, hybrid developmental problems result from the failure of alleles from one population to function properly with alleles from the other population (McDaniel et al. 2007, 2008). We are currently working to identify the causative mutations at these loci. In conjunction with controlled crosses, we are using field experiments to infer the ecological or demographic processes that promoted evolutionary change at these loci. Evolution of sex chromosomes It is now clear that sex chromosomes are one of the most dynamic parts of animal genomes, both in terms of gene content and patterns of molecular evolution, and make a disproportionate contribution to adaptation and reproductive isolation. The haploid-dominant life cycle of bryophytes, however, means that moss sex chromosomes are subject to a different set of population genetic forces than sex chromosomes in other systems. The forthcoming sequence of the C. purpureus genome will provide a nearly complete catalog of sex-linked genes in this species. We are now expanding previous phylogenetic studies of C. purpureus and its relatives in order to provide a framework for studying the long-term evolution of moss sex chromosomes and test the hypothesis that the possession of sex chromosomes alters patterns of diversification in mosses.
Lab Web Page: http://www.biology.ufl.edu/People/faculty/stuartmcdaniel.aspx
Willing to Host Undergraduates: YES
Actively Seeking Undergraduates: NO
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