Mutation and Mitochondria in Caenorhabditis Nematodes
We investigate the interplay between spontaneous mutation processes and mitochondrial dysfunction in the laboratory model nematodes C. elegans and C. briggsae. This work is in collaboration with Suzanne Estes and her lab at Portland State University. We investigate patterns of mitogenomic dynamics and its impacts on nuclear genome evolution in natural populations and laboratory-evolved lines. Molecular approaches, genomics, and bioinformatics are combined to investigate this line of Denver lab inquiry. Recent work has focused on the transmission dynamics of low-frequency heteroplasmic mitochondrial mutations ('mitochondrial dark matter'), and the population-genetic determinants governing when mitochondrial genomes evolve in 'selfish' fashions versus in harmony with host organisms.
SF Christy, RI Wernick, MJ Lue, G Velasco, DK Howe, DR Denver, S Estes. 2017. Adaptive Evolution under Extreme Genetic Drift in Oxidatively Stressed Caenorhabditis elegans. Genome Biology and Evolution 9: 3008-3022.
RI Wernick, S Estes, DK Howe, DR Denver. 2016. Paths of heritable mitochondrial DNA mutation and heteroplasmy in reference and gas-1 strains of Caenorhabditis elegans. Frontiers in Genetics 7: 51.
WS Phillips, AL Coleman-Hulbert, ES Weiss, DK Howe, S Ping, RI Wernick, S Estes, DR Denver. 2015. Selfish mitochondrial DNA proliferates and diversifies in small, but not large, experimental populations of Caenorhabditis briggsae. Genome Biology and Evolution 7: 2023-2037.