NEWS & EVENTS 2008November 2008
Dr. Pawel Michalak, assistant professor in biology, is a featured speaker at Omics!, a moderated panel discussion on proteomics, genomics and informatics. The Fort Worth Life Science Coalition, a nonprofit organization, sponsors the event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Arts 5th Avenue, 1628 Fifth Ave., Fort Worth. More information is available online at www.fwlsc.org. E-mail reservations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Researchers find first reported horizontal transfers of genetic material in mammals
UT Arlington researchers have provided the first evidence for the “horizontal transfer” of a mobile genetic element in a wide range of vertebrates, including several mammals. Researchers were Cedric Feschotte, an assistant professor; John K. Pace II, a graduate student; Clement Gilbert, post doctorate fellow; and Marlena S. Clark, a former UT Arlington graduate student. All are from the Department of Biology. Their research is included in the Oct. 20 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online early edition. The paper will be highlighted in the front section of the upcoming print journal. Horizontal transfer is the transmission of genetic material between sexually isolated species. Mammals normally get genes “vertically,” or handed down from parents and grandparents. Bacteria get theirs in this way, but also “horizontally” – passed from one, unrelated individual to another. The researchers found evidence that horizontal gene transfer has occurred in mammals and amphibians, as well, including the bush baby, a nocturnal primate, and little brown bats, rats and mice, opossum, tenrec, green anole lizards and African clawed frogs. The horizonal transfer was facilitated by a kind of “parasitic” DNA found in cells, known as a transposon. Feschotte says what he calls “space invader” tranposons jumped sideways millions of years ago into several species by piggybacking onto a virus. The transposon then assimilated itself into the chromosomes of germ cells, ensuring it would be passed on to future generations. The result was that some parts of the mammal's DNA do not come descend from direct ancetors but was aquried laterally from a distantly related species.
Claudia Marquez (Pritham lab) was awarded the Genetics Society of America (GSA) Award for Outstanding Oral Presentation in Biological Sciences for her short talk given at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) annual meeting in Salt Lake City. There were 3000 participants in the meeting and 80 oral presentations in the sciences. Way to go Claudia!
Raymond Jones, PhD. joins the GBG and the Department of Biology as the GBG's Core Facilities Manager.
Assistant Professor Esther Betran has been invited to the Conference on Population Genetics and Genomics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.
GBG's Assistant Professor Esther Betran invited to join the Editorial Board of The Journal of Molecular Evolution.
GBG's Assistant Professor Jeff Demuth has been awarded $356,000 from NSF for his proposal “Haldane's rule in plants? A test using Silene species both with and without sex chromosomes.” Congratulations!!!
GBG member's work “blogged” in the New York Times. Read more!
GBG genome reseachers' work on brown bat featured in Genome Research
Recent research by UT Arlington genome scientists Cedric Feschotte and Ellen Pritham, both assistant professors in the Biology Department, is featured as the cover story of Genome Reserarch. The colleagues are exploring the genome of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), a member of the vespertilionid bat family. Bats constitute more than 20 percent of existing mammalian species and the Vespertilionidae is the most diverse family with about 300 species distributed worldwide. The researchers show that vespertilionid bats, concomitantly to their diversification during the past 35 million years, have experienced successive waves of genome invasion by diverse DNA transposons, mobile genetic elements that use a cut-and-paste mechanism of transposition to spread in the organism's DNA. The level of recent DNA transposon activity reflected in the genome of Myotis lucifugus is unprecedented among mammals and at least one of the transposon identified in the study appears to be in the midst of its expansion in natural populations. To see the cover and read a short description of the research, as well as a link to the full article, see this Web site.
Arturo Menchaca and Dillon Cawley (Christensen Lab) have received the 2007-2008 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award. They will receive their awards Tuesday, April 22 at 7pm in the Bluebonnet Ballroom in the University Center. Congrats guys!!!
Undergraduate GBG researcher John Pham has been selected as a 2008 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Undergraduate Research Fellow. This award includes a $2000.00 summer stipend as well as travel costs to participate in the 2009 ASM General Meeting. Way to go John!
GBG graduate student Claudia Marquez has received an Honorable Mention for her application to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Nearly 10,000 students apply annually to this program. In 2008, 913 fellowships were awarded and 1639 applicants given the Honorable Mention distinction. Congratulations, Claudia!
GBG students win awards in 2008 ACES competition!
Provost's Award ($200) - John K. Pace, II (Quantitative Biology) Title: Space Invaders! Repeated horizontal transfers of a DNA transposon in mammals and other tetrapods Faculty Mentor(s): Cedric Feschotte Group
President's Poster Award ($200) - Claudia P. Marquez (Biology) Title: Phantom a new family of Mutator transposons Faculty Mentor(s): Ellen J. Pritham
Dr. Maeli Melotto is a PI on a grant for 1.9 million dollars received from NIH – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The title of the proposal is “Stomate-based innate immunity against bacterial infection in Arabidopsis.” The work will be split between her lab and that of Dr. Sheng Yang He at Michigan State University.
New Faculty Joining the GBG
Dr. John "Trey" Fondon, a research fellow in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and biochemistry at UT Southwestern, will joined the GBG next spring semester (2009) as an Assistant Professor of Biology .
Congratulations to Paul Chippindale for his recent promotion to the rank of Professor.
Michalak Lab research published in Science
Science magazine has published an article about reproductive isolation between biological species that graduate student John Malone and Pawel Michalak, assistant professor of biology at UT Arlington authored.