So I am working on a few things these days- and will try and get you an update. In addition to my own work, I’m working on a few projects with other people.
1. Parentage Analysis- In total- I marked and collected tissues from 132 individuals this summer. About 60 were juveniles. From these 60, I have at least one parent for 30, and 2 parents for 10. Taking into consideration the low sample size, these data support the notion that P. eremicus is largely monogamous, but that there is some extra pair copulation. The exact frequency remains unclear.
2. Other Peromyscus stuff. I’m wondering if breeding season in synchronized by the 1st major spring rain. This year, this seemed to be the case, I still need to look at last years’ data to see if then also.
3. Howler Monkey stuff- I’m working on a project with Eileen and Katie Milton trying to validate some methods using fecal DNA. Turns out that feces can be used to genotype individuals. It’s pretty messy (pun intended) work, the data that is. There is a lot of contaminants, which makes analysis difficult.
4. MHC work- This has been to focus of much of my work for the past few weeks. MHC forms the genetic basis of innate immune function in mammals, with greater genetic polymorphism making for better immune function. The questions here ask (1) Do animals choose mates based on MHC dissimilarity- thus enhancing polymorphism in their offspring, and (2) Are there patterns in MHC polymorphism across species with different mating systems- i.e. Do promiscuous species have greater polymorphism than monogamous species that are exposed to fewer pathogens- at least during mating. The lab protocols involve cloning and sequencing these genes.
5. Tuco-tuco MHC primer design- This is a project Im doing with Eileen, where I am trying to design PCR primers that amplify MHC genes in here animals. The goal if this project is to look at MHC gene expression. Cool stuff.
6. Oral exam- Spring 2007. This is the major hurdle in the PhD curriculum. The exam is 3 hours of questioning by a set of Professors. They ask you questions about topics that elate to your research, but not about your project itself. Many many hours of reading and meeting go into preparation for this.
There are a few other things- but I think that this will keep me busy for the near future.