Next-generation sequencing has revolutionized the field of marine genomics by provide us with unprecedented access to the genetics of non-model organisms. In my laboratory, we use whole-genome sequencing approaches (WGS) to reconstruct the migration patterns and the evolutionary histories of marine organisms and transcriptome-wide (RNA-seq) gene expression analyses to study how marine organisms adapt and respond to their environment.
Coral immunity and disease resistance | NSF-funded research used RNA-sequencing to characterize the immune response of endangered staghorn corals infected with White Band Disease and identify the genetic bases of disease resistance in staghorn corals.
Coral microbiome: mutualists vs. pathogens | NSF-funded research in collaboration with the Gouhier lab focused on identifying how competition among coral microbial mutualists and pathogens shape the coral microbiome. Our research combines coral microbial meta-genomics and meta-transcriptomics with infectious disease models to examine the dynamics of the staghorn coral microbiome.
Phylogenomics of North Atlantic | North Atlantic marine communities has been strongly influenced by the trans-arctic interchange, habitat changes during repeated glacial cycles, and recent human influence including the introduction of non-natives and of course global climate change. We use genomics approaches to examine how evolution and history has shaped the patterns of gene flow and speciation in two key intertidal snails – the periwinkle Littorina saxatilis, a model of ecological speciation, and the predatory whelk Nucella lapillus. Using NOAA Scallop RSA funding, we are examining patterns of larval connectivity (i.e. gene flow) in the sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus to help inform the management of this commercially important (and tasty) species.
Coral Speciation and Hybridization | Coral reefs are built by a diverse assemblage of reef-building (or Scleractinian) corals. Yet, how this coral diversity originated and is maintain is still poorly understood. One key question has revolved around how high coral species diversity is maintained in the face of high hybridization potential. Our work in the Caribbean Acropora and Eastern Pacific Pocillopora hybridization systems has characterized the patterns and rates of introgressive hybridization between coral species and demonstrated that genetic mixing is typically limited by selection against hybrid genes.