Molecular genetics of ecological adaptations
Mentor: Professor Thomas F. Duda, Jr.
The rapid ecological divergence of populations can drive speciation and promote diversification. Members of the predatory marine gastropod genus Conus show dramatic differences in feeding specializations at inter- and intraspecific levels. Conus utilize a venom comprised of numerous peptide neurotoxins to capture prey and venom composition too exhibits tremendous differences both within and between species. This project seeks to understand the evolution of dietary specializations and origins of adaptations related to feeding ecology in Conus through coupled investigations of diets and venom composition. This work would be done on the Ann Arbor campus in the Duda Laboratory, although opportunities may exist for field studies in the tropical Pacific.