University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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Contact Info

University of Michigan
Museum of Zoology
1109 Geddes Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Ruthven 3036/3085

(734) 647-2207


Priscilla Tucker

Professor, Curator and Museum Director

Field of Study

Molecular evolution and systematics of mammals, speciation

Adademic Background

B.A. Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, Spanish 1974
M.S. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 1980
Ph.D. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 1984
Visiting Instructor, Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, 1984-1985.
Postdoctoral Trainee with Dr. Eva Eicher, The Jackson Laboratory, 1985-1988.
Assistant Professor of Biology/Assistant Curator of Mammals, Museum of Zoology 1988-1995.
Associate Professor of Biology/Associate Curator of Mammals, Museum of Zoology 1995-2001.
Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Associate Curator of Mammals, Museum of Zoology 2001-2005. 
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Curator of Mammals, Museum of Zoology 2005-present.

Research Interests

My research program is shaped by my interests in biological diversity and the evolutionary processes that give rise to it.  More specifically, I am interested in the genetic changes underlying mammalian diversity.  Recent and current research is focused on understanding gene dynamics in hybrid populations of two subspecies of European house mice, Mus musculus musculus and Mus musculus domesticus. These mice are related to the laboratory mouse, a premier model for studies in mammalian genetics.

Studying naturally occurring hybrid populations provides an opportunity to study the fitness consequences of genetic exchange between lineages that have presumably evolved in allopatry.  We are interested in identifying genes that disrupt reproduction or development in hybrids, resulting in postzygotic isolation and speciation.  We are also interested in identifying genes that are introgressing from one population to the other as they likely confer fitness advantages.  Although reproductive isolation and adaptive introgression are opposing forces, both are likely to promote biological diversity when the genome is porous and the species boundary is semi-permeable.

Our current research on house mouse hybrid populations is a continuation of an earlier study on a naturally occurring hybrid zone between M. m. musculus and M. m. domesticus in southern Germany (Tucker et al., 1992).  We measure differential gene flow in hybrid populations using genetic markers from across the genome.  Our original study included seven genetic markers and 400 mice collected from a single transect in southern Germany.  We have since increased the number of markers to 1403, providing a greater opportunity to pinpoint genes and identify phenotypes associated with reproductive isolation and adaptive introgression.  We have also increased the number of transects sampled, allowing us to more effectively distinguish between selection and stochastic effects.   Recent papers from our lab that are related to this work include Teeter et al. (2008), Teeter et al. (2010), Wang et al., (2011) and Janousek et al. (2012).

Graduate Students

Marcella Baiz, Beatriz Otero Jimenez, and Lisa Walsh