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Current projects in the Duda Lab:

Graduate student Paula Teichholtz is investigating patterns of population differentiation and development of ectoparasitic marine snails.

Graduate student Andrew Wood is purusing questions pertaining to the functional diversification of Conus venoms. 

Undergraduate student Alyssa Lawler is examining patterns of morphological and molecular variation among members of a Conus species complex.

Undergraduate student Ja'naysha Hamilton is investigating the evolutionary history of conotoxin gene families in Conus.


Past major projects in the Duda Lab:

Funds from the University of Michigan Associate Professor Support Funds supported capture and analyses of transcriptome data to examine patterns of genetic variation and expression profiles of neutral and selected loci among populations of Conus species. A publication is currently in preparation, but in brief the results show that divergence in venom composition may be influenced by differences in dietary breadth or occurs when genetic connectivity among populations is low.

Funds from the National Science Foundation supported the study of the evolution of venoms and feeding specializations of a set of closely related Conus species. We specifically compared venom compositions and diets of several populations of three Conus species from the Indo-Pacific. The work that we conducted included characterization of Conus diets through examination of DNA sequences obtained from snail feces and characterization of Conus venoms through analyses of venom duct mRNA sequences. Fieldwork at American Samoa and Hawaii took place during 2009 and work at American Samoa occurred in 2010. See Publications for recent papers on these themes.

A study of ecological release was supported from funds from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration.
Conus miliaris is essentially the only Conus to occur at Easter Island. Based on Alan J. Kohn's work on this species, the population at Easter Island exhibits a much greater dietary breadth than do populations of this species elsewhere. We examined the diets of individual snails at Easter Island to show that the greater dietary breadth is inherent within all individuals of this population and that individuals do not exhibit individual-level resource specialization. We also compared venoms of individuals from the Easter Island population to those of individuals from elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific to demonstrate that wider diets are associated with changes in venom compositions. See Publications for recent papers on the Easter Island studies.