Evolution is a change in the genetic composition in a population over multiple generations. Phenotypic plasticity is a change in individual phenotypes within a single generation. In a variable environment it would seem that the ability to react within a generation would be advantageous and if this adaptability had a genetic basis it would be selected for. One organism capable of reacting within a single generation to environmental conditions is the tadpole of the gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor. The change in this tadpole is stimulated by predation of con-specifics by dragonfly larva and results in the tadpole’s tail becoming longer, deeper, and red. This may allow Hyla versicolor to avoid predation. The purpose of this research is to find the gene or genes that regulate this instance of phenotypic plasticity.
Both normal-tailed and red-tailed tadpoles were reared from a single clutch of eggs. Messenger RNA was isolated from each and used for the production of cDNA. Subtractive hybridization was used to isolate only those cDNA’s (genes) that were specific to the red-tailed tadpoles. The cDNA was inserted into plasmid vectors and amplified by culturing them in E. coli hosts. A total of 28 clones were isolated and analyzed via agarose gel electrophoresis.
Michael Lathrop, ’03 Seattle, WA
Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology
Sponsor: Craig Tepper