Population Genetics of Death Valley Pupfishes (Cyprinodontidae:Cyprinodon Spp.) and the Identification of a New Retrotransposable Element Family
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thesis / dissertation description
Study of the genetic relationships and evolutionary histories of pupfish populations (Cyprinodontidae: Cyprinodon spp.) from the remnant aquatic habitats of Death Valley was approached by exploring the genetic structure and divergence within and among populations using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers. The findings of these studies illustrate the influences of population size and isolation time in the divergence of small, fragmented populations largely via genetic drift. The information revealed in this study has implications for assessing priorities in the conservation of the unique evolutionary heritage among populations of the Death Valley pupfishes. A new retrotransposable element family was identified and characterized. This family of genetic elements was uncovered during a search of the pupfish genome for transposable elements to be used as molecular markers for population analyses. The description of this element family, named "Swimmer 1" (SW1), provides new insights into the evolution of long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) in vertebrates. Therefore, a full characterization of the SW1 element family was undertaken in the Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) as well as in the pupfish genome. The Japanese medaka is a model organism widely used for genetic and developmental biology studies.