Biology Research News

This page features brief profiles of both recent and ongoing research by Amherst College's faculty and students in Biology.

Please see the Biology Research News Archives page for older entries.


Miller Lab: Evolutionary Relationships, Gynodioecy, & Polyploidy in the Galápagos Endemic Lycium minimum (Solanaceae)

 Rachel A. Levin, Edmund M. Keyes'12,  and Jill S. Miller

International Journal of Plant Sciences
2015, VOLUME 176

Miller Lab: Evolutionary Relationships, Gynodioecy, & Polyploidy in the Galápagos  Endemic Lycium minimum (Solanaceae)

Lycium minimum is an endemic species native to the Galápagos Islands and the only species of Lycium occurring at the equator. 

We demonstrate the presence of male-sterility on two islands, which represents the first discovery of separate sexes in any South American Lycium.  The presence of pollen-sterile individuals is coincident with a reduction in flower size.

Though Lycium minimum is allied with both North and South American species, it has colonized the Galápagos from South America.

Hood Lab: Breaking linkage between mating compatibility factors: Tetrapolarity in Microbotryum

Recent Publication

Hood M.E., Scott M., & Hwang M. EVOLUTION September 2015 69:2561-2572

Theory predicts that organisms with multiple determinants of reproductive compatibility should exhibit genetic linked for mating traits. Hood Image 1                 

This study reveals the breakage of this linkage by chromosome fission, prompting new conceptual models for genome evolution of sexual system.

 Hood Image 2

Graf Lab: Mutational Analysis of Rab3 Function for Controlling Active Zone Protein Composition at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction

 Recent Publication

Shirui Chen, Hannah K. Gendelman, John P. Roche, Peter Alsharif, & Ethan R. Graf PLoS One, 28 August 2015, 10:e0136938


Graf Chart 1

Rab3 plays a novel and unexpected role that controls synapse development. How does it do this?

We find that even though the role is new, the general function is conserved. Rab3 likely controls active zone development via a vesicle docking mechanism that is consistent with standard Rab protein function.

 Graf Chart 2


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