August 15, 2003-July 31, 2007
Level of Access
A major challenge for evolutionary biologists is to determine the degree to which natural selection shapes genetic variation in natural populations. Hybridization is common between two species of blue mussel found in the North and Baltic Seas. The differential exchange of genes between the two mussel species, particularly genes encoding enzymes involved in central metabolic pathways, suggests those genes may be under selection and involved in adaptation to low salinity conditions in the Baltic Sea. Tests for selection will be conducted by comparing levels of genetic exchange for these metabolic genes against nonmetabolic and presumably neutral (i.e., not under selection) genes and by looking for signals of selection at the DNA sequence level.
This project will further the understanding of how natural selection operates at multiple genes, especially at the boundaries between hybridizing species. It will also enhance educational opportunities in population biology and evolutionary ecology for women and minorities and contribute to the development of K-12 educational outreach materials in these fields.
Rawson, Paul D., "Collaborative Research: Extreme Discordance between Allozyme and Non-allozyme Introgression in Baltic Mussels. Selection on Allozymes?" (2008). University of Maine Office of Research and Sponsored Programs: Grant Reports. 159.