Previous research using RAD markers had focused on finding differences between samples grown in labs, Johnson said, "but many interesting biological questions can't be assayed in a lab, and many species of animals cannot be reared in a lab."
"Bill's lab showed that RAD markers can detect differences between natural populations, and his lab developed new analytical tools to understand the data," Johnson said. "It is a great fit for RAD markers, because they sample a genome at a higher density than other marker systems and provide DNA sequence data at a low error rate -- two crucial aspects for this kind of study."
Once the technology was ready, it took Cresko's team about six months to run the DNA analyses. Now that the technique is operating smoothly, the same experiments might be done in several weeks, he said.
Under a new NSF-funded project under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Cresko and Frank von Hippel, a University of Alaska biologist, are looking closely at another set of stickleback populations. They are working on lakes formed when the 1964 Alaska earthquake lifted several offshore islands 10 meters (32.8 feet) in four minutes. "We hope to learn something about these fish while they are still evolving, literally, from an ocean population to a freshwater one," Cresko said.
|Contact: Jim Barlow|
University of Oregon