Speciation & Adaptation
Our research interests focus on the genetic basis and architecture of speciation, species differences and adaptation and the underlying evolutionary and environmental mechanisms leading to adaptations. We are using social and solitary Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants) and a wide range of genetic and genomics tools to describe how epigenetic and genetic variations in concert with environmental factors generate qualitative and quantitative variations in adaptive phenotypes, e.g. pheromone composition, caste determination, male courtship behavior, social structure, etc. We also want to understand how the evolution of eusociality has affected genome structure, -composition, and -evolution in ants, bees and wasps.
Our lab also has a longstanding interest in mitochondria and mitochondrial processes. In particular, we are trying to understand the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial encoded genes in the OXPHOS pathway, mitochondrial introgression between species and populations, and how these processes and interactions contribute to speciation, adaptation, and the evolution of complex traits (e.g. diapause, aging, etc.).