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Biological Science Major


Mode of inheritance and genetic variation evaluated through comparative genomics of plastome sequences of an invasive hybrid plant species and its parents”

Research on chloroplast DNA has, historically, been conducted with small partial data sets due to limitations in technology and costs. As new sequencing technologies have been developed in recent years and costs have decreased, complete genome sequencing is much more attainable. The aim of this investigation is to sequence the entire chloroplast genomes of two junipers and an invasive hybrid species that formed after introduction of a non-native species to the island of Bermuda. Specifically this study system will be used to examine the following:

1) Evaluate the mode of inheritance of the chloroplast genome when hybrids are formed. At least 70% of plant species are of hybrid origin but hybrid genomes have not been sequenced. This will provide first insight into the mechanisms of chloroplast genome inheritance at the sequence level.

2) Annotate the genomes and identify sequence variation hotspots among closely related individuals for developing SNP markers for future population genetic studies. The lack of variable sequence markers is currently restricting phylogenetic analysis of juniper species that are economically important for forestry, horticulture, secondary compound extraction, and other uses. Having a detailed marker set will also allow conservation genetic studies of the native and introduced junipers of Bermuda and better assess the endangered status of some of the species.

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