Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What I did at school today

OK, it's not school, it's work, but it's always nice to have a pretty picture to show for it. The picture above is a representation of genetic data from the mosquitoes I collected from NYC last month. I should say "we" because I largely came along as the genetics person for whom the mosquitoes would be ground up and analyzed.

Anyway, I have a set of genetic markers called microsatellites, and the ways that those vary among individuals and populations give me information about how similar or different those individuals and populations are. We used to visualize them on gels cast between large glass plates, but now I use a DNA sequencer to do what they call Fragment Analysis. It sizes the markers for each individual, and the end product is a spreadsheet with marker information for each individual.

I then take that spreadsheet info and put it into programs that analyze the data. One program is called Structure, and it looks for genetic structure in populations. Each individual is represented by a vertical line. With the picture here, you can see that two of the populations are similar to each other; those are the above ground populations. The third population are the sewer mosquitoes.

We have specimens of all three groups in the insectary at the moment. My next job is to look more closely at the two above-ground populations and see if they are similar enough to combine them as one group for the purposes of establishing a colony in the insectary.

It's good when the analyses work like they are supposed to!!

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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.