Date of Degree
Access restricted until 02/23/2019
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
A primary goal of evolutionary biology is to elucidate the factors necessary for a single interbreeding species to become two independent species. Observations and data collected and recorded since the 6th century B.C. have added to our comprehension of the “the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries” (DARWIN 1859). To continue to add to our knowledge of how speciation occurs and how species interact, it is crucial to determine 1) how different categories of genes evolve as species diverge, 2) what happens to hybrids of two species, and 3) if genetic exchange is allowed between species, where it is located.
In the first research aim of my dissertation, I look for population genetic trends and signatures of gene flow in a minimally studied set of Drosophila sister species using sequences of 26 nuclear and mitochondrial regions in 29 isofemale lines of D. subobscura and D. madierensis. Standard population genetic tests revealed that the X chromosome evolves faster than the autosomes in these species. We also find evidence of genetic exchange for some autosomal genes while both the sex chromosomes and mitochondrial genomes remain distinct between species.
In the second research aim of my dissertation, I assess the rates of gene expression evolution for sex-biased genes located on the X chromosome and autosomes. We find that gene expression evolves faster in males than females and find evidence of faster-X evolution that is exclusive to genes expressed at higher levels in males. The X chromosome has previously been shown to have a disproportionately large influence on hybrid male sterility compared to autosomes. I investigate this trend and find that the sex chromosomes have a large influence on autosomal expression levels in hybrid males and hybrid females. Specifically, uniparental inheritance of the X chromosome results in greater differences between reciprocal hybrids and higher levels of hybrid misexpression.
Copyright © 2016 Danielle Kay Herrig