Lamprohiza splendidula - female
The evolution of sexually dimorphic traits
How do sexually dimorphic traits evolve and which selective pressures maintain them? We use several firefly species to study the evolution of different degrees of sexual dimorphism, from monomorphic to extreme dimorphism. More specifically, we investigate sex-biased expressed genes across phylogenies and using brownian motion models, we hope to uncover the selective forces maintaining gene expression variation.
Dosage compensation in heterogametic sex chromosome systems
After autosomes differentiate into sex-chromosomes an imbalance in gene expression arises. In some species this imbalance is so detrimental that entire protein complexes have evolved to compensate gene expression. We are investigating X/Z chromosome dosage compensation in the European crow, Drosophila melanogaster and Heliconius butterflies.
Demographic inference and molecular adaptation
Little is know about the demographic history of insects, even though this information is crucial to understand their adaptability through time. We are using population genetic approaches to investigate past population changes, gene flow level across firefly populations and loci putatively evolving under positive selection. Investigating connectivity across populations will uncover population dynamics that can be important for conservation purposes. Additionally, investigating the evolutionary forces acting on genomes, will give us a better understanding on how insect adapt to rapidly changing environments.
Several Photinus species are awaiting to be discovered.
Snapshot of a Biologia Centrali Americana plate showing fireflies collected between 1884 and 1893.
Filing the gap in the Neotropics
Neotropical habitats harbor the highest biodiversity on earth and yet, these are the least researched areas. Together with del Valle University of Guatemala we are surveying the firefly biodiversity and are investigating their phylogenetic relationships with known firefly species.