Molecular Evolution Genetics

Only some 50 years ago James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure (i.e. DNA, a nucleic acid) of the hereditary material of most organisms and cracked the genetic code. Thanks to this molecular Rosetta stone, scientists can now examine the genetic code through both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Molecular techniques are powerful tools used by diverse STRI researchers to gather data that are useful in addressing a variety of questions central to evolutionary biology.

A unique theme at STRI is the study of genetic and behavioral divergence and speciation of taxa that once lived in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans , but are now separated by the Isthmus of Panama. STRI's geological and paleontological research is generating an increasingly precise and detailed reconstruction of the closure of the Isthmus of Panama. These data provide an independent estimate of the time of final closure, which are used to calibrate a molecular clock.

Staff scientists researching Molecular Evolutionary Genetics