Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut

My research focus is the molecular ecology and evolution of zooplankton. My laboratory group uses diverse molecular approaches to study population ecology, population genetics, phylogeography, species diversity, and evolution of marine holozooplankton, especially copepods and euphausiids.

Environmental Transcriptomics: We use genomic and transcriptomic approaches to examine gene expression profiles in zooplankton using whole-transcriptome RNA sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR (QPCR) of target biomarker genes. Our current focus includes the copepods Calanus finmarchicus in the North Atlantic and C. glacialis in the Arctic Ocean, as well as the salp Salpa thompsoni in the Southern Ocean. For more about our studies on the Southern Ocean salp and Antarctic krill studies, see http://antarcticsalpgenomics.blogspot.com/.

Population Genetics / Phylogeography: We are using various genetic markers (including multigene sequences, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) markers) to examine spatial patterns of genetic variation of zooplankton from small-scale patches to ocean-basin scale gyres, to measure population connectivity, and to infer pathways of transport in ocean currents.

Species biodiversity: We have worked to develop a new global view of zooplankton species diversity through the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ, see www.CMarZ.org), an ocean realm field project of the Census of Marine Life (CoML). We use DNA sequences for mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I as barcodes (i.e., short DNA sequences for species recognition and discrimination) to characterize global-scale patterns of zooplankton species distribution and diversity. We are analyzing zooplankton samples by metabarcoding, by High-Throughput Sequencing (e.g., Illumina MiSeq and NextSeq) of selected marker genes (COI and V4 and V9 hypervariable regions of the 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene of DNA extracted from unsorted zooplankton samples. We are working to ensure that metabarcoding can become a reliable, accurate, rapid and cost-effective approach to assessment of species diversity and food web dynamics of pelagic ecosystems. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2–xV5eaB0

Phylogeny: We are using multigene datasets to analyze the evolutionary history and molecular phylogeny of copepods and euphausiids. A particular goal is to integrate molecular and morphological phylogenies for improved understanding of the timing and mode of speciation of these ecologically important and taxonomically complex zooplankton groups.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut