Honors Theses

Resolving the Gene Regulatory Network for a Fruit Fly Pigmentation Trait Whose Modification Underlies Climate-Driven Phenotypic Variation


Thomas Williams



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Honors Thesis


Species surviving changing climates require ancestral trait phenotypes to convert to better adapted derived states. Adaptations can occur by genetic differences, raising questions how such differences translate into phenotypic change. A prerequisite to answering these questions is to understand the genetic basis for trait development. In animals, traits are made by genetic programs known as gene regulatory networks (GRNs) that are encoded in genomic DNA sequence. Each GRN includes a fraction of the genes within an organism’s genome, notably some that encode transcription factors that regulate the expression of the trait- making genes. Regulation occurs by transcription factors interacting with short DNA sequences, called binding sites, in gene regions known as cis-regulatory elements (CREs). For any CRE, its ability to activate gene expression is due to the binding sites it possesses for a particular combination of transcription factors. To date, a GRN for a climate adapted trait has not been resolved. Thus, understanding how GRNs facilitate or stymie adaptation remains speculative. My thesis sought to better resolve the GRN responsible for a pigmentation pattern on the abdomen of Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies through genetic and microscopic approaches.

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This thesis is not available in the repository or through interlibrary loan; to view it in person, visit the University Archives by telephone at 937-229-4256 or via email at archives@udayton.edu.


Undergraduate research



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