Wen-Juan Ma, Ph.D. and postdoctoral research associate at Amherst College, will present "Evolution of Homomorphic Sex Chromosomes, Sex-Biased Gene Expression in the Common Frog."
"My research focuses on the fields of evolution and genomics of sex chromosomes and mating-type chromosomes, sex determination, as well as evolution of asexuality (especially induced by the bacteria Wolbachia). To understand the evolution and genomics of sex chromosomes and sex determination, I have used a broad range of non-model organisms, including invertebrate haplodiploid parasitic wasps, vertebrate amphibians, angiosperm plants and parasitic plant anther smut fungi, using various approaches in combination of fieldwork, experimental crosses, common garden experiment, molecular genetics and comparative genomics. Previously, my work on genomics of homomorphic sex chromosomes in the common frogs was investigating of evolutionary signatures of early stage of sex chromosome evolution, such as transcriptional degeneration, feminization of X chromosomes, dynamics of sex-biased gene expression throughout development and among adult tissues. The results revealed that sex-biased gene expressions were not enriched in sex chromosomes, no transcriptional degeneration occurred and no Faster-X (sex chromosome) evolution evolved, suggesting the canonical model of sexual antagonistic selection might not play a critical role at least in amphibian sex chromosome evolution. Currently, I am using comparative genomics approach to investigate temporal degeneration of non-recombining mating-type chromosomes in a series of anther smut Microbotryum fungi species."