Jaclyn "Jackie" Bubnell
I am interested in understanding the functional consequences of evolution in Drosophila using population genetic and functional approaches. Our lab and others have identified a set of germline stem cell genes that have been undergoing rapid, adaptive evolution in the sister species Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans. In D. melanogaster, these genes play key roles in the maintenance and differentiation of the germline, but their functions have not been defined in other Drosophila species. Have these genes been rapidly evolving due to changes in germline function, or is there an evolutionary conflict resulting in an “arms race,” thereby driving sequence diversification?
I’m currently working to functionally characterize these genes in D. simulans and other divergent Drosophila species to determine if core germline function has diverged. I plan to define both the expression patterns of these genes as well as protein function. I’m also exploring the possibility that the maternally inherited germline parasite Wolbachia pipientis has introduced an evolutionary conflict with the host germline and is thereby driving the positive selection of a subset of the rapidly evolving germline stem cell genes, especially bag of marbles which our lab has shown to be genetically interacting with Wolbachia.