Journal of Undergraduate Research


evolution of the photopigments, terrestrial animal eyes


Life Sciences




Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met The proposal had three main aims: 1). Produce a phylogenetic estimate of aeshnid dragonfly evolution from transcriptomes. 2). Use the phylogeny from Aim I and the photopigments isolated from the transcriptome data to examine the evolution of aeshnid color visual systems and 3) Using independent and complimentary methods (in situ hybridization, qPCR and transcriptome data) to examine both the distribution and level of expression for each photopigment for one focal species (Anax junius). Goals one and two were both successful, however goal three became bogged down and only a portion of this research was ultimately carried out. In situ hybridization and qPCR proved more difficult to carry out than expected. However, the major limiting factor was not the techniques but instead the length of the experiments that ultimately made this project difficult. We tried three separate experiments to raise immature dragonflies to the last instar before they emerge as adults. Each time we had 70-100% die off before the final instar. The last experiment was most successful, with ~70% die off but we could not build on this experiment due to the change in season and a lack of access to dragonfly eggs. We plan to continue to try to rear dragonflies in the lab with our new found knowledge as a result of this reseach. Further, goals one and two were successful for a subset of our focal taxon so we can certainly build on what we have done so far into the future. Still, despite the setbacks we were able to present these findings at several meetings and have a manuscript in prep and publish another.

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