Understanding what drives the appearance of new species has been a key question in evolutionary biology for over a century. My lab has begun to identify genes involved in Drosophila courtship rituals that differ between closely related species. During courtship, Drosophila males emit sounds by vibrating their wings, and differences in this courtship song associated with female preferences for species-specific songs result in strong behavioral prezygotic isolation between Drosophila species. Additionally, chemical cues such as cuticular hydrocarbons are used as signaling molecules in mate recognition and communication. My lab has established fast and inexpensive methods to re-sequence fly genomes and high-throughput phenotyping methods and algorithms to measure male courtship songs and female behavior and cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in order to map genes associated with mate-choice in several Drosophila species.
We use video, song recording and hybrid QTL analysis to study the genetic basis of behavioral isolation
In combination to phenotyping assays, we have also been developing approaches to generate chromosome-level genome assemblies for our species of interests, combining long-read sequencing technology with Hi-C scaffolding. To date, we have generated high-quality assemblies for members of the obscura group, and nasuta group.