2001 Annual Science Report
Marine Biological Laboratory Reporting | JUL 2000 – JUN 2001
Relationship of Genetic Changes to Phenotypic Changes in Organism -- Environment Interactions
Relationship of Genetic Changes to Phenotypic Changes in Organism â?? Environment Interactions (dm)
One of the research questions of the NASA Astrobiology Institute is, “How do genetic changes produce phenotypic chages?”. This research program seeks to answer this question by using the genetic basis of spectral tuning in animal color vision as a model system. We are sequencng genes for opsins, the protein responsible for color vision, from species dragonflies, which are a facile study system. We collected specimens and isolated poly-A messenger RNA from an additional 72 species bringing the total to 88 species. The new species collected in this reporting period come from two expeditions: Maine, USA, 34 species; and Queensland, Australia, 28 species. The taxa represent a broad sampling of Odonata (Dragonflies): 2 suborders; 11 families; and 52 genera. We complete sequences (for the gene region we are studying) from 26 species, and partial sequences from 9 additional species. These sequences include several distinct opsin types from several species. We are currently collecting sequence data for these new specimens.
Building upon earlier preliminary work, we have completed analyses and model building for the relationship between peptide sequence variation and spectral tuning for 107 vertebrate opsins. This year we will pursue a similar research plan for arthropod opsins and compare the models across these broad taxonmic groups.
The opsin sequence database has been rebuilt to increase flexibility and performance. We used Tangram to include object-oriented design features, Mason to better integrate Perl with the HTML and MySQL as the underlying database system. The database continues to be tested and revised.