• Genetics & Molecular Biology

    Genetics & Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology is a fundamental area of investigative research in Biology that employs new technologies and experimental approaches to examine fundamental processes in all living organisms. In the course of these investigations, we use wide variety of model organisms, including mice, guinea pigs, human tissue cell cultures, the nematode species Caenorhabditis elegans, the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, model bacteria and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The research is of immediate relevance to human health in many areas including cancer, inherited genetic diseases and disease resistance, DNA repair, and neurosystem development and function. We welcome strong applicants as undergraduate researchers, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Ian Dworkin
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LSB 428
(905) 525-9140 ext. 21775

At one level, evolution is remarkably simple, with just a few concepts ? mutation, recombination, random drift and natural selection ? that underlie the overall process. Yet this description obscures many issues that make evolution a fascinating area for study. Evolution typically involves many genes and often revolves around interactions between individuals and their environments. Moreover, genes interact with one another and with the environment in a nonlinear fashion, resulting in complex phenotypes and evolutionary dynamics. My work aims to describe and analyze such interactions with experimental and quantitative rigor. Specifically work in my lab aims to address the fundamental question about the mechanistic basis of observed phenotypic variation. That is, how genetic (and environmental) variation modulate developmental processes and ultimately influence phenotypic outcomes. My research employs genetic and genomic approaches to address these issues, largely using Drosophila (fruit flies) as a model system. Most labs that work with Drosophila study either individual mutations of large effect (such as those that completely knock out a particular function) or subtle quantitative variation (rarely identifying specific genes). We employ both of these empirical approaches in conjunction with our genomic analyses to help relate our understanding from developmental genetics with the natural variation observed in populations.

Cell & Developmental Biology; Ecology & Evolution; Bioinformatics & Functional Genomics

A selection of recent papers. For a full listing please see my google scholar page https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Iium3AEAAAAJ&hl=

  • Testa, N. & Dworkin, I. 2016. The sex-limited effects of mutations in the EGFR and TGF-β signaling pathways on shape and size sexual dimorphism and allometry in the Drosophila wing. Development, Genes and Evolution. 2263:159-171. doi:10.1007/s00427-016-0534-7.
  • Gotoh, H., Zinna, R., Warren, I., DeNieu, M., Niimi., T., Dworkin, I., Emlen, D., Miura, T. & Lavine, L. 2016 Identification and functional analyses of sex determination genes in the sexually dimorphic stag beetle Cyclommatus metallifer. BMC Genomics. 17:250. doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2522-8
  • Roles, A.J., Rutter, M.T., Dworkin, I., Fenster, C.B., Conner, J.K. Field measurements of genotype by environment interaction for fitness caused by spontaneous mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana. Evolution. 705:1039-1050. doi: 10.1111/evo.12913
  • Elliot, K.H., Betini, G.S., Dworkin, I. & Norris, D.R. 2016. Experimental evidence for within- and cross-seasonal effects of fear on survival and reproduction. J. Animal Ecology. 85:507-515. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12487
  • Stillwell R., Shingleton A., Dworkin I. & Frankino, W.A. 2016. Tipping the scales: Evolution of the allometric slope independent of average trait size. Evolution. 702:433-444 doi:10.1111/evo.12865
  • Dworkin, I., and Jones, C.D. 2015. Evolutionary Genetics: You are what you evolve to eat. Current Biology. 25:R341–R343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.044
  • Sonnenschein, A., VanderZee, D., Pitchers, W.R., Chari, S. & Dworkin, I. 2015. An Image Database of Drosophila melanogaster Wings for Phenomic and Biometric analysis. GigaScience. 41:25. doi:10.1186/s13742-015-0065-6
  • Moczek A.P, Sears, K.E, Stollewerk A, Wittkopp P.J, Diggle P, Dworkin I, Ledon-Rettig C, Matus D.Q, Roth S, Abouheif E, Brown F.D, Chiu C, Cohen C.S, De Tomaso A.W, Gilbert S.F, Hall B, Love A, Lyons D.C, Sanger T, Smith J, Specht C, Vallejo-Marin M & Extavour C. G. 2015. The significance and scope of evolutionary developmental biology: a vision for the 21st century. Evolution & Development. 173:198-219.
  • Lavine, L.C., Gotoh, H., Brent, C.S., Dworkin,I. & Emlen, D.J. 2015. Exaggerated Trait Growth in Insects. Annual Review of Entomology. 60:453-472. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-010814-021045
  • Pitchers, W.R, Klingenberg, C.P., Tregenza, T., Hunt, J., & Dworkin, I. 2014. The potential influence of morphology on the evolutionary divergence of an acoustic signal. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 2710:2163-2176. doi:10.1111/jeb.12471
  • Pitchers, W.R., Wolf, J.B.,Tregenza, T., Hunt, J. & Dworkin, I. 2014. Evolutionary rates for multivariate traits: the role of selection and genetic variation. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 3691649:1471 doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0252
  • Ledón-Rettig, C., Pfennig, D., Chunco, C. & Dworkin, I. 2014. Cryptic Genetic variation in natural populations: A predictive framework. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 545: 783-793. doi:10.1093/icb/icu077
  • Melicher, D.M., Torson, A.S., Dworkin, I. & Bowsher, J.H. 2014. A pipeline for the de novo assembly of the Themira biloba Sepsidae: Diptera transcriptome using a multiple k-mer length approach. BMC Genomics. 151:188 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-188
  • Chandler, C.H., Chari, S., Tack, D. & Dworkin, I. 2014. Causes and Consequences of Genetic Background Effects Illuminated by Integrative Genomic Analysis. 196:1321-1336. Genetics. doi:10.1534/genetics.113.159426
  • Chari, S., & Dworkin, I. 2013. The conditional nature of genetic interactions: the consequences of wild-type backgrounds on mutational interactions in a genome-wide modifier screen. PLoS Genetics. 98:e1003661. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003661
  • Chandler, C.H., Chari, S & Dworkin, I. 2013. Does your gene need a background check? How genetic background impacts the analysis of mutations, genes, and evolution. Trends in Genetics. 296:358-66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2013.01.009
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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Biology