Course Content
CPBP 8328 | QSBC Seminar Series
About Lesson

In this talk, I’m going to tell two stories about new research in my lab that, incidentally, come to similar conclusions. The central question of both investigations is how complex traits evolve. First, I’ll describe our discoveries about RNA interference, a phenomenon that was discovered in C. elegans – and for which the Nobel prize was awarded – and yet which shows dramatic variation in efficacy among wild strains. Second, I’ll discuss natural variation and evolution in nuclear-encoded tRNAs, which are ancient and essential genes but which also exhibit rapid degradation and turnover within genomes over short timescales. In both instances, we observe evidence of opposing evolutionary forces acting on the genes of these phenomena, simultaneously conserving but also driving divergence. We hypothesize that the genetic and functional differences we observe in RNAi competence in C. elegans illustrates just how dominant small RNA activity is in the biology of this genetic model system, and that the patterns of tRNA evolution in C. elegans are representative of dynamics, including mutational burden, common across all eukaryotes.

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