I’m almost at the halfway point of my summer research in the McFadden lab. I’m working with three other Mudd students this summer, and each of us is in charge of overseeing a different aspect of our project -- all related to understanding the evolutionary history and connectivity of corals and their relatives the anemones, as well as trying to delimit species, using methods such as barcoding and target enrichment. Since the samples I’m focusing on, the anemones Actinaria, weren’t ready for the first couple of weeks, I helped the other team members out with their projects. These included DNA extractions and barcoding for several Paramuricea samples, as well as library preparation of Alcyonium samples. Last week, the 64 Actinaria samples arrived, so I was able to begin library preparation on them, and I’ll be working on this for most of the next few weeks. The goal of this library preparation is target-capture enrichment of UCE (Ultra-Conserved Element) and exon loci, which will help us determine the species boundaries of closely-related anemone species. This information could help answer questions such as whether different color morphs of the same anemone species actually represent unique species. When I’m not doing library preparation, I’m doing bioinformatics work in the dry lab. With regards to bioinformatics, I’ve mostly been working on annotating the mitochondrial genomes of the hexacoral order Antipatharia (black corals) using the programs MITOS, Spades, and Novoplasty. These annotations will further help us understand the connections between coral species. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to work with such great mentors, and I’m learning a ton.
UCE Project Team
All things Anthozoa, Evolution and Ecology
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation