Dr. Olav Rueppell
Our office and lab space are located in the Eberhart Building
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Our research apiary and bee facility are located
5min to the west (see map).
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LAST UPDATED Sept. 2011
Currently, we are pursuing two research problems through comparative genomics: the exceptionally high genomic recombination rate of honey bees, and the differences in caste divergence among various honey bees species.
The average recombination rate in Apis mellifera is about 20 cM/Mb, which is the highest genome-wide rate reported for any metazoan. However, in collaboration with Juergen Gadau at Arizona State University, we have found that Apis florea (the red dwarf honey bee) displays a recombination rate that is at least equally high over the two investigated chromosomes. We are interested in investigating the evolutionary conservation of this high genomic recombination rate at different scales, and understanding its proximate and ultimate causes. Our recent simulation studies have shown that the evolution of high recombination rates cannot be sufficiently explained by selection for increased genetic colony diversity. On the other hand, we have shown that genetic colony diversity is generally significant in social insects. We envision high-density linkage maps for all Apis species, which will elucidate the patterns of recombination across different evolutionary scales and also help the genome assemblies for these species. In addition, we are annotating genes with putative roles in meiotic recombination in the emerging Bombus and Apis genomes in collaboration with the Chris Elsik lab at Georgetown University.
To enable comparative genomic studies, our lab currently spearheads the sequencing and analysis of the genome of the giant honey bee, Apis dorsata, using only paired-end, Illumina reads in collaboration with the Michael Schatz (CSHL), Chris Elsik (Georgetown), and with the help of Gene Robinson (University of Illinois). The results can be used to improve the genome predictions of related genomes and permit comparative genomic studies in honey bees with Apis florea and A. cerana genomes also emerging. We are particularly interested in genes that have a possible function in caste divergence and recombination. Furthermore, a completed A. dorsata genome will enable genetic mapping studies, including fine-scale analyses of recombination.