Michael Nachman, Professor

Closed (1) The genetic basis of speciation in house mice

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

Understanding how new species arise is a fundamental problem in evolutionary biology. We are studying the genetic details of speciation using two subspecies of house mice that exhibit partial but not complete reproductive isolation. In an on-going, two-year experiment, we have combined mice from both subspecies in large, outdoor enclosures, thus creating experimental hybrid populations. By allowing the mice to interbreed for ten generations (about two years) and sequencing the genomes of the descendants, we hope to identify the genes contributing to reproductive isolation.

Undergraduate students are being recruited to help with all aspects of this research, including (1) monitoring mice on a daily basis at the field site which is located in the Berkeley hills above campus, (2) sampling tissue from young mice on a weekly basis, (3) laboratory work to extract DNA from tissues and prepare samples for sequencing. Students will have the opportunity to gain training in evolutionary biology and genetics, experimental design, mouse husbandry, and molecular biological techniques. An overall expected outcome is to develop scientific skills and help prepare for a career in science. Sufficiently motivated and talented students may be able to develop independent thesis projects within the context of this research.

Qualifications: We are particularly interested in recruiting students who are entering their junior year or earlier, with the hope that they will remain involved for the two-year duration of the project. Some background in evolution and genetics is desirable. Students must be responsible, highly motivated, and interested in handling wild mice. Previous coursework in organismal biology (like IB 104) or experience working with wild animals is a plus. The field site is in the hills close to campus. For students who cannot provide their own transportation, it is possible to take a campus bus to the site.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://ib.berkeley.edu/labs/nachman/index.html