Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Luciano M. Matzkin

Committee Member

Bruce W. Stallsmith

Committee Member

Luis R. Cruz-Vera


Drosophila mojavensis., Plant genomes.


Relationships between an organism and its environment are important in understanding how species evolve. One way of looking at this relationship is by examining what genes show evidence of positive selection. This study analyses the changes on protein-coding genes in response to host adaptation. Drosophila mojavensis is a cactophilic fly in that both larval and adult forms develop or feed in necrotic cactus. Four populations of this species each specialize on a different cactus host species. Illumina sequencing was performed on three populations and template assembled to the reference genome of the fourth. Rates of protein evolution were determined for all loci using a several approaches. Genes with evidence of positive selection were linked to the functions of metabolic process, reproduction, and response to stimulus. Results of this study give insight into host adaptation and the beginnings of speciation.



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