Today was spent trying to fine tune the content of the student workbook-the most difficult task is to tone the science down to meet the understanding and stimulate interest in your Irish Teen 15 year old.
Much of today was also spent studying- you get interested in the lab work and the bioinformatics but I need to paint the full picture for myself. Professor Teeling gave Clare and I a tutorial on bat evolution on Wednesday and it sparked an interest.
You can’t mention bats without mentioning their key feature-echlocation. There are numerous studies ongoing which are looking at the how and why of this process-
- one area of research involving sympatric (same country) evolution-Basically you have many bats living in the same area-the frequency of their echolocation changes (possible gene mutation?) and this results in reproductive isolation- no genetic drift- this population of bats change genetically over time, they are unable to communicate with and reproduce with those bats using a different frequency-this group changes slowly overtime, so much that they only breed with bats using their frequency-a new species is born.
- Bats seem to form new species much faster than other mammals-this is why there is such interest in studying them-are they evolving faster? Why is this happening? What gene or genes are responsible?
- What would you discover genetically if you sequenced the Fox P2 gene in the DNA of different bat species known to have distinct echolocating frequencies? What would you see if you aligned the sequences? Would there be deletions, insertions etc, When you create the phylogenetic tree of maximum likelihood where would the nodes appear- compare the tree to fossil study and date the branches-what would you discover? If you date the branching or divergence back to period in history, was there any significant incident in the environment?
This is only some of the information that you get absorbed in when you are in the bat lab-It pushes you to study and try to get up to speed. The study aspect is fantastic- you can sit and read papers, read campbell, take notes etc., Bat Lab and all the cool people that make up the Bat Lab-INSPIRE!