Hot Student Papers

Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers in Pulsatilla vulgaris (Ranunculaceae) using next-generation sequencing

12 Feb 2016 - 2:11pm
Pulsatilla vulgaris, a specialist wildflower of dry grasslands in Europe

Is there a better way to celebrate Darwin Day than with a Hot Student Paper at the cusp of evolution and ecology? Of course not! This week, we highlight a paper by Ph.D. student Michelle DiLeo (Wagner Lab) published in Applications in Plant Sciences entitled “Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers in Pulsatilla vulgaris (Ranunculaceae) using next-generation sequencing”. Pulsatilla vulgaris is a specialist wildflower of dry grasslands in Europe, which has witnessed rapid declines across its range. Its decline is linked to the abandonment of traditional grazing practices, resulting in the severe loss of dry grassland habitat.

Reducing clinical trial risk in multiple sclerosis

15 Jan 2016 - 8:28am
pill capsules and a syringe

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has enjoyed considerable success by the standards of any disease, in terms of the number of new drugs approved for treatment, and many of these drugs represent new mechanisms of action. How have we achieved this success and what might we further capitalize on this momentum? This question was recently tackled by Cassandra De Gasperis-Brigante, a former ROP Biology student working with Dr. Jayson Parker. Together they published “Reducing clinical trial risk in multiple sclerosis” in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island

16 Dec 2015 - 9:09am
artist's drawing of a Dimetrodon

Nothing brings on the holidays like a blood-thirsty extinct Dimetrodon in Canada … or is it! Recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink published “Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island” in Can. J. Earth Sci.. This paper redescribes an historic Canadian fossil collected in 1845 on PEI, Bathygnathus borealis. Although originally thought to be a dinosaur, the fossil is actually a sphenacodontid, which is on the lineage leading towards mammals. Using CT scan data and new phylogenetic analyses, this study suggests that the fossil from PEI is in fact a species of Dimetrodon.

Can genetically based clines in plant defence explain greater herbivory at higher latitudes?

1 Dec 2015 - 8:22am
insect on an evening primrose

If you plan to live in the South make sure you are well defended! No, I’m not talking about the Republican Presidential Nomination, but the latest findings by PhD student Daniel Anstett (Johnson Lab) and ROP299 student Nabanita Nawar. Daniel and co. just published “Can genetically based clines in plant defence explain greater herbivory at higher latitudes?” in Ecology Letters. In a field experiment at KSR, Daniel planted out genotypes from 137 populations collected from the entire native range of common evening primrose. Over the course of two years he studied the insects that attacked these plants and measured a variety of chemical defences and additional plant traits involved in defence.

Fifty years of co-evolution and beyond: integrating co-evolution from molecules to species

16 Nov 2015 - 8:40am
diagram showing coevolution at multiple levels of biological organization

The bees, butterflies and pesky bugs. The fungi, flowers, forests and fields full of plant diversity. 50 years ago Paul Ehrlich and Peter Raven proposed that coevolution – reciprocal natural selection between species – gave rise to much of this biological diversity we see and take for granted. PDF Dr. Diego Carmona and PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) take stock of what we have learned and where we should be going in their article “Fifty years of co-evolution and beyond: integrating co-evolution from molecules to species” in Molecular Ecology.  Diego and Connor argue that despite 50 years of research, we still don’t understand how common coevolution is in nature, and whether it involves symmetrical or asymmetrical coevolution.

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