Dr. Amanda Moehring
Genetics of behaviour and species formation
Visit Dr Moehring's website
Dr. Moehring was recently awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics (New - $500,000). Moehring also received $163,330 in infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for a Molecular and Behavioural Genetics Laboratory.
Are you my species?
There is a wide variety of living creatures on this planet, yet one of the great unanswered questions in biology is how this variety came to be. What are the genetic changes that cause one continuous population to diverge into two distinct species, and prevent them from merging back together?
Two of the points at which species isolation can occur are either when problems arise in the offspring that result from interspecies mating (e.g., some or all of the hybrid offspring being sterile and unable to produce offspring of their own), or through behavioural isolation, which prevents interspecies mating from occurring in the first place. The question of how species arise is critical to our understanding of evolution, conservation of endangered species and maintenance of biodiversity. Yet very little is known about the genetic changes that cause either sterility in hybrid offspring or behavioural preference.
The work of Dr. Amanda Moehring, Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics, focuses on the genetic changes that cause new species to form and be maintained. Her work examines both the genetics of behavioural isolation as well as hybrid sterility, seeking to provide a broad understanding of species formation.
One of the major hurdles in understanding species isolation is that species, by their very definition, do not want to mate together or, if they can be mated, will produce sterile offspring. As most genetic studies require crossing pairs of individuals, prevention of crossing impedes our ability to identify genes involved in species isolation. To overcome this obstacle, Moehring approaches these questions using the model system of Drosophila—the fruit fly. This system has the advantage of having a wide array of genetic and genomic tools available, as well as having species pairs that can be crossed together in the laboratory and produce fertile offspring.
By identifying the genes related to reproductive traits, Moehring’s research will provide new insight into the mechanisms by which new species arise, as well as enhance our general understanding of how variation in behavioural traits arise. Her work with the humble fruit fly may allow us to one day understand how individuals recognize members of their own species and why some individuals are fertile while others are not.
Check back to this page regularly as we will be highlighting news breaking research/awards by other members of our Biology Department. To find out about other research in our Department please follow the links to individual faculty web sites
This page was last updated on
November 5, 2010
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