Species delimitation using SNPs


A new paper by Leaché et al., including Dr. Matt Fujita, describes a method and implementation of species delimitation using genome-wide SNP data. This is an important contribution given the direction that systematics is moving with the continued adoption of next-generation sequencing in biodiversity studies. Furthermore, the method contributes to the need for objective species delimitation with explicit models. Co-authors Dr. Vladimir Minin from the University of Washington and Dr. Remco Bouckaert from the University of Auckland were instrumental in developing the theory to use Bayes Factors to choose among delimitation models and implementing the method in SNAPP; the new species delimitation tool is called BFD* (Bayes Factor Delimitation).

Plumage color genes in domestic pigeons

The Fondon Lab teams up with researchers at the University of Utah and pigeon fanciers across the nation to uncover the genetic basis of plumage color variation in domestic pigeons.  Leveraging knowledge about the genetic basis of color variation in other species, Shreyas Krishnan and Clifford Rodgers, students in the Fondon Lab, identified mutations in three genes responsible for four different color traits, finding that some color variants evolved repeatedly through recurrent mutations in the same genes. 

Domyan et al. (2014) Epistatic and combinatorial effects of pigmentary gene mutations in the domestic pigeon.  Current Biology 24:459-64.

UTA press release

Evolutionary dynamics of a South American flycatcher

Dr. Matthew Fujita was part of a collaborative team to uncover interesting dynamics that have influenced the evolution of Zimmerius flycatchers in an article published in Systematic Biology. A “mosaic” population has acoustic and biometric similarities to a souther species, Z. viridiflavus, but plumage characteristics of a northern species, Z. chrysops. Using RADseq, they discovered that the mosaic population is largely allied with Z. viridiflavus. However, low levels of introgression from chrysops into the mosaic population was detected that may have influenced the plumage affinity between the two lineages.

Sequence of the python genome

Dr. Todd Castoe leads an international team on the genome sequencing of the Burmese python (Python molurus). Read the publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This paper was published alongside the genome sequence of the king cobra.


     University of Texas at Arlington

     NBC News


Painted turtle genome


Dr. Todd Castoe and Dr. Matt Fujita are featured in the Fort Worth Star Telegram regarding the publication of the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) genome. Jill Castoe is also featured, advocating the capabilities of the Genomics Core Facility.

Graduate Student Awards

Congratulations to Alex Hall, Kyle O'Connell, and Daren Card for securing prestigious research awards this year. Alex and Daren were awarded the Rosemary Grant Research Award from the Society for the Study of Evolution, and Kyle recieved the Roosevelt Grant from the American Museum of Natural History to conduct field work in the southeast U.S. for coachwhip snakes.