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<<  October 04, 2013   >>
Friday, October 04
Parrots of the Caribbean: From the first community-sponsored genome to a new evolutionary model
Taras Oleksyk - University of Pureto Rico

To achieve the first community-sponsored genome of an endangered species, we organized an outreach campaign resulting in a publication of the sequence of the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot.  We continue to engage students and promote issues in conservation and evolutionary genomics to the local public, while creating opportunities for scientific research for dozens of young researchers.  Our early efforts have proven a success, and subsequent research has been reinforced by hundreds of small individual donations. Our research objective is to use a local model of island speciation centered on the endemic Caribbean group of parrots, starting with Puerto Rico’s own critically endangered Amazona vittata.  Inferences about genome variation and population structure of this species are used to help decisions in the captive breeding programs.  Crowdfunding has allowed for addition sequence data from the closely related A. ventralis, and various transcriptomes to annotate genes and to evaluate expression differences.  In the next step, genomes of closely related parrot species from the Caribbean islands are assembled using the genome draft of A. vittata, and cross-examined for differences and conservation patterns to find genes, regulatory and structural elements.  The genome alignments are further interrogated for similarities and differences in the evolutionary context examining past migration, colonization and adaptation events.  Our hypothesis is that observed differences are rare, and point to the evolutionary adaptations and stepwise migration events from island to island.
100 Guyot Hall  ·  12:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m.