April 08, 2016
I became fascinated with insects during my previous employment with the Canadian National Collection of Insects. At the same time, I also saw the emergence of large data genomic technology being used to answer evolutionary questions. When I decided to pursue a master’s degree, I wanted a project that would combine both of my interests. During my stay here at Western, I started the Mustang Bioinformatics Club with Jantina Toxopeus to provide other graduate students with bioinformatic support.
April 01, 2016
Insecticide resistance continues to develop as a problem within agricultural systems. New non-chemical routes of pest reduction are required to reduce pest populations and increase agricultural yield in response to rising levels of resistance. Trichoplusia ni (Hübner) (Cabbage Looper Moth) is a problematic agricultural pest in standard agriculture, and greenhouses, with a wide range of possible host plants including cabbage, tomato, and bell peppers. They have developed resistance to a number of pest management strategies, and serve as a model organism in this study of LeCCD1 transgenic Solanum lycopersicum (L) (tomato) trap crop capabilities. Trap cropping is the practice of planting highly attractive, disposable plants within the grow area of a main crop with the purpose of drawing pests away from harvested plants. This design aims to verify Cabbage Looper Moth attractance to LeCCD1 tomatoes, as well as assess trap crop effectiveness against this pest in model growing arrangements.
March 18, 2016
March 11, 2016
February 26, 2016
February 12, 2016
February 05, 2016
January 29, 2016
January 22, 2016
January 15, 2016
Vegetative reproduction utilizes stem, leaf, or root derived organs to form clonal offspring and is an inherent feature of the body plans of many plants. Growth allocation often favours vegetative organ production over that of sexual reproduction and the depth of clonal organs can aid in freezing avoidance. Frost tolerance decreases dependence upon site availability and recruitment can be facilitated by the greater supply of resources to clonal offspring.
To test the effects of freezing on vegetative organ survival and plant recruitment I will use snow removal, freezing, and functional trait analysis. Plants will be subjected to freezing temperatures after which organ survival, recruitment, and organ investment will be measured. Snow removal and freezing chambers will be used to study the effects of organ depth. Functional trait literature, phylogenetic information, and geographic distribution will also be used to gain further insight on the distribution and qualities of these functional traits.
Choosing the right mate is of central importance to biological fitness. In Drosophila, olfactory and gustatory cues in the form of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are used to assess the identity and quality of potential mates. Since Drosophila melanogaster produces infertile offspring when it forms hybrids with any of its sister species, those individuals which are the most discriminating against flies that do not express the appropriate CHC profile will have the highest fitness, as they will preferentially mate with individuals of the same species to form fertile offspring. Here, I will endeavour to identify key genes involved in species differences in CHC production. Since different CHC profiles constitute a reproductive barrier across Drosophila species, genes identified in this study will provide insight into the complex mechanisms of speciation in insects.