Invited Speaker

Dr. Melissa Wilson

Melissa Wilson.jpg

Dr. Melissa Wilson (Ph.D.) is a computational biologist whose main research interests include sex determination, sex-biased biology, and sex chromosome evolution. The Wilson lab is focusing on understanding the evolution of gene content on the sex chromosomes, including how sex chromosomes arise, and how dosage is maintained (or not) on sex chromosomes. Further, the Wilson lab also uses patterns of variation on the sex chromosomes, which hold unique signatures of evolutionary history to study demographic processes, including sex-biased bottlenecks and selection that may leave some populations more vulnerable to specific diseases. Arizona State University set up Wilson’s lab next to that of Dr. Dale DeNardo. And thus her demise into moving from being a mammalian geneticist, to becoming utterly fascinated with the Gila Monster began. Upon further investigation she discovered there was very little known about the Gila Monster genome, that they do have chromosomal sex determination, and that there had been no genetics done about their sex chromosomes. And a whole new collaboration began. After being rejected multiple times for funding, Wilson led a crowd-funding effort to fund the first stages of generating the Gila monster genome. The Wilson lab has worked to identify sex chromosomes and study their evolution in the Gila Monster, and anticipates continuing to be obsessed with monsters for the foreseeable future. 

Talk title: Genome Assembly and Sex Chromosomes in the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum)