Hot Student Papers

Latitudinal gradients in herbivory on Oenothera biennis vary according to herbivore guild and specialization

19 Jan 2015 - 8:04am
insect on a flower
Living in warmer climates isn’t all it is cracked up to be, or is it? Ecologists have long hypothesized that the intensity of antagonistic species interactions increases towards the tropics. For example, plants at lower latitudes are predicted to be eaten more by insect herbivores. A recent paper by Ph.D. candidate Daniel Anstett (Johnson Lab) calls this hypothesis into question. Daniel recently published “Latitudinal gradients in herbivory on Oenothera biennis vary according to herbivore guild and specialization” in Ecology. In this paper he tested if herbivory is highest at lower latitudes across the entire North-South species range (Ontario to Florida) of common evening primrose, Oenothera biennis.

Genomewide mutation dynamic within a long-lived individual of Armillaria gallica

7 Jan 2015 - 4:14pm
Armillaria gallica

Happy New Year! Nothing brings in the New Year like mushrooms and mutations, so this week we celebrate the paper by former M.Sc. student Stefan Catano and Prof. Jim Anderson. Their paper “Genomewide mutation dynamic within a long-lived individual of Armillaria gallica” was published in Mycologia. Mutation is the ultimate source of all genetic variation in populations and yet the actual events remain unobservable and buried in the past. Long-lived individuals of Armillaria gallica, a common opportunistic fungal pathogen of tree roots, provide the context for examining the mutational dynamic.  Whole-genome sequencing was used to identify the mutations and place them in space and time, reflecting growth of the individual from birth to present.

Effects of functionally asexual reproduction on quantitative genetic variation in the evening primroses

19 Dec 2014 - 2:54pm
Primroses

Sex is the spice of life! This is the conclusion that former M.Sc. student Ryan Godfrey (Johnson Lab) came to in his paper “Effects of functionally asexual reproduction on quantitative genetic variation in the evening primroses”, published in American Journal of Botany. Why organisms have sex at all is a conundrum that has puzzled biologist for over a century. An early hypothesis was that sex maintains genetic variation within populations, increasing the probability of survival for individuals born to sexual mothers compared to asexual mothers. Surprisingly, this hypothesis has been tested only in a small number of animal systems and with variable results, and it has never been examined in plants.

Raf kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP): functional pleiotropy in the mammalian brain

8 Dec 2014 - 9:42am
Preserved brain in a jar

What should an MSc student do during their last week in UTM Biology? They should go out with a bang like Harrod Ling, who just published his first review! Harrod and his coauthors Lucia Mendoza-Vi (PhD candidate) and Neel Mehta (MSc candidate) (Cheng Lab), just published "Raf kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP): functional pleiotropy in the mammalian brain" in Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis.

First record of plicidentine in Synapsida and patterns of tooth root shape change in Early Permian sphenacoodontians

2 Dec 2014 - 8:15am
Dimetrodon teeth

In science it is important to get at the root of the problem, and that is literally what PhD students Kirstin Brink and Aaron LeBlanc (Reisz Lab) did in their recent paper in Naturwissenschaften: “First record of plicidentine in Synapsida and patterns of tooth root shape change in Early Permian sphenacoodontians”. In this paper, they used histological thin sections to examine the shape of the tooth roots in different species of Dimetrodon, a Permian sail-backed synapsid. Dimetrodon was a geologically long-lived species (~20 million years) with few obvious changes in morphology throughout its evolutionary history.

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