C.R. Young, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Speciation, Symbiont Transmission and Genomic Evolution in Hydrothermal Vent Taxa and Their Symbionts
Wednesday - January 14, 2009
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
Since their discovery in the late 1970’s, chemosynthetic communities from deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps have been shown to be globally distributed and species-rich. Ecological and evolutionary processes affecting both species diversity and genetic diversity are of great interest in these communities. Population processes (e.g., coalescent variation, recombination, hybridization or lateral gene transfer) can have profound consequences for phylogeny estimation, and hence our ability to properly infer evolutionary process. I will talk about coalescent theory, the difference between gene trees and species trees, and models that incorporate these processes for estimating population sizes, gene flow/introgression rates and divergence times of closely related taxa. Taking a deeper temporal view of the speciation processes, I will discuss a recent study that shows lateral symbiont acquisition in Vesicomyid clams and will discuss the implications of this finding for the evolution of these predominantly vertically-transmitted intracellular symbionts. Finally, I will discuss our efforts to bring next-generation sequencing technology to bear on studies of microbial diversity and population genetics in a variety of environments.