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Evolution & Systematics
Members of my research group are interested in evolution. We explore evolutionary relationships at different taxonomic levels and in different organisms. The main projects currently running in our lab are focused on the evolution of marine sponges and honeybees where we are applying multiple approaches/information that will inform our understanding of evolution.
Sponge Research: Biology and Systematics of the Haplosclerida using an integrative approach. We apply standard molecular phylogenetic approaches with standard loci (mt COI, 28S rDNA) to reconstruct phylogenies to support traaditional morphological approaches focused on patterns of skeleton formation. To this we add study of the ultrastructure of cells and tissues using electron microscopy, bioactivity and the types of chemical compounds produced by sponges, the types and functional roles of bacteria living inside sponges, the genes and proteins used by sponges to make their skeletons and compounds and genomics and transcriptomics approaches.
Honeybees: We commenced research on this topic just in 2013/14 with research to support beekeeping in Ireland as well as towards further understanding of adaptation of our native honeybee subspecies (Apis mellifera mellifera) and its conservation. We work cloely with beekeeping associations, have established a research apiary and are continuing to learn to be better beekeepers. We use current approaches to understand diversity of the Irsh A. m. mellifera and the relatedness between bees here and in other countries. We are interseted in the impact of non-native bees on A. m. mellifera and are working towards a management stratefy for honeybees in ireland. Addiotnal research uses molecualr and genomic appraoches to diversity of forage and the microbiome of native bees and genomic signatures of selection operating here. We have used a citizen science approach to locate the presence of free-living colonies in Ireland and have developed an online reporting tool and monitoring tool wiht the National Biodiversity data centre to continue this research.
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Previous Group Members
ASSEMBLE Plus provides scientists with Transnational Access to marine biological stations and a wide variety of state-of-the-art experimental and analytical facilities, and advanced training opportunities. Read more...
IGNITE is an EU Innovative Training Network that will gather together world-leading expertise to train a new generation of scientists skilled in all aspects of invertebrate genomics.. Read more...