Alyson Cook Rose Hills
Genetic Control of Development and Evolution in the Three Spine Stickeback Skeleton
The vertebrate skeleton has undergone extensive evolutionary adaption to a wide variety of environments. The precise molecular mechanisms that led to this vast variation are not fully understood. The three spine stickleback fish provides a model organism in which to study these mechanisms. Populations of stickleback colonized newly formed freshwater lakes and streams at the end of the last ice age and repeatedly evolved numerous skeletal adaptations, including lengthening of certain groups of bones. My project will investigate possible genetic and developmental mechanisms that led to this observed variation in bone length. I will be comparing expression patterns of important bone development genes between marine and freshwater populations and searching for regions of the genome that control the increased bone lengths. The results of this project will provide a further understanding of the molecular regulation of the development and evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.