News from the Lab

Hot Off The Press!

We’re delighted to share our new paper detailing an updated genomic timescale for placental mammals that was released today as part of a special issue in Science celebrating the work of the Zoonomia Consortium

In the same issue be sure to check out our contributions to one of the Flagship papers which provides an overview of how the Zoonomia Project has enhanced our evolutionary understanding of mammals. This overview paper is also accompanied by a nice perspective piece

Murphy Lab Undergraduate Researchers Spring 2023 Semester – Team Recombination

Undergraduate Researchers Spring 2023

This semester Richie, Zoya, Srushti and Julia were joined by new team member Christian in their quest to generate recombination maps for diverse mammalian species. This year, Team Recombination added a Babboon, Sloth and Lion to our growing menagerie of mammalian recombination maps. We’ve also “spread our wings” a little outside of mammals and added maps for Darwin’s Finches and a Falcon.

11th International Conference on Canine & Feline Genetics & Genomics

A collage of Andrew, Bill and the cover of the 11th Annual ICCFGG in Alabama

This past October, Bill and Andrew presented at the 11th International Conference on Canine & Feline Genetics & Genomics (ICCFGG) in Huntsville, Alabama. Hosted every two years, ICCFGG provides a platform for researchers and clinicians from all over the world to share the latest advancements in canine and feline genetic and genomic research.

Andrew gave a presentation titled “Ultracontinuous genomes elucidate complex speciation patterns within Panthera,” describing how recent advancements in genome assembly and long-read sequencing enable a high-resolution look into the evolutionary histories woven throughout the genomes of big cats for which he received the outstanding student oral presentation award.

Team Panthera—Spring 2023 Undergraduate Researchers

Andrew and Undergraduate Researchers Spring 2023

The field of phylogenomics is rapidly advancing, and the ability to assess species-level relationships at a genome-wide scale is becoming readily available. Recent discoveries in phylogenomics have shown how hybridization between closely related species confounds standard phylogenetic approaches. To identify the true species relationship, one must evaluate both phylogenetic and genomic data types at a genome-wide scale.

Our project focuses on conducting whole genome phylogenomic analyses on each of the eight major cat lineages to understand better the distribution of evolutionary histories woven throughout the genomes of the various cat species through rampant hybridization and selection over the past 15 million years. Using state-of-the-art software and novel techniques, we will also identify true species relationships by comparing phylogenetic and genomic data types in addition to identifying genes under selection for specific traits/phenotypes.

Team: Megan Yang, Trevor Martinez, Ramya Bathala, William Cameron Walker, & Thanh-Thao Buu Ho

Team Recombination—Fall 2022 Undergraduate Researchers

Aggie Research Program Undergraduate Researchers in the Murphy Lab in Fall 2022This semester has seen Srushti and Julia join forces with returning Team Recombination members Richie and Zoya in their quest to generate recombination maps for diverse mammalian species, including a dolphin, a cow, an Asian leopard cat, a wolf, and a polar bear.

New Preprint

Check out our new preprint on bioRxiv.

5th Annual Southeast Texas Evolutionary Genetics & Genomics

STEGG logoThis June 3rd, the University of Houston’s Department of Biology and Biochemistry hosted
the 5th Annual Southeast Texas Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics (STEGG) conference.
This event brought together over 100 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students for a full
day of talks, poster presentations, and networking opportunities. It was the first conference outing for our undergraduate researchers Richie and Sebastien, who were very excited to
be introduced to the concept of conference SWAG. On the day, Nicole brought home an award for best post-doc talk for her presentation entitled “A genomic timescale for placental mammal evolution.”

Texas Genetics Society

Save The Date Poster for the 49th Annual Meeting of the Texas Genetics Society in College Station, TX (2022)In late March the lab attended the 49th Annual meeting of the Texas Genetics Society at The Stella Hotel here in College Station, with Nicole winning a prize for her presentation entitled “Karyotypic stasis and swarming influenced the evolution of viral tolerance in a large bat radiation.”

Biology of Genomes at Cold Spring Harbor

Earlier this year, Andrew and Nicole were shipped North to attend the Biology of Genomes Meeting in the beautiful surroundings of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in New York. Aside from all the wonderful science presented at the meeting, the famous CSHL Lobster dinner was a particular highlight. And while a caricature drawing of Andrew and Nicole was not the souvenir Bill was hoping for, it was the one he got!
Lobster dinner with broccoli and potato A caricature of Nicole and Andrew from their trip to Cold Spring Harbour Labs in New York

Team Recombination—Spring 2022 Undergraduate Researchers

Aggie Research Program Undergraduate Researchers in the Murphy Lab in the Spring of 2022Last Spring, we were joined by Sebastian, Zoya, Melinda, and Richie, who spent a semester
in the lab learning basic bioinformatic skills and building recombination maps for various mammalian species, including a gorilla, a fruit bat, a blue whale, and a naked mole rat.

American Genetics Association in Snowbird, Utah

Nicole, Bill and Andrew with Anjanette Baker in the snowy mountains of UtahThe Murphy Lab recently attended the annual meeting of the American Genetics Association in Snowbird, Utah. The theme of this year’s meeting was Conservation Genomics: Current Applications and Future Directions. And as if we weren’t already spoiled by two days of brilliant and insightful conservation talks, we were also treated to a fresh fall of snow! Here
we are with AGA manager-extraordinaire Anjanette Baker on a quick foray out into the snowy mountains.

Isabella Childers joins the lab

Isabella Childers works at a large computer screen“I graduated in 2021 from Clemson University, South Carolina, with a Bachelor’s in Genetics.
In the spring of 2022, I joined the Murphy Lab as a genetics PhD student. I’m currently
working on reconstructing the genome assembly of the aardvark and Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, which will be used to help reconstruct the ancestral placental mammal karyotype and gene order.”

Congratulations, Drs. Bredemeyer & Myers!

Dr. Alex Myers, left, works at lab bench and right, Dr. Kevin Bredemeyer has a sombrero on at a Mexican restaurant.Congratulations to the newest Murphy Lab Doctors—Dr. Kevin Bredemeyer and (double)
Dr. Alexandra Myers (PhD/DVM) on their recent graduations! Although we’re very sad to
see them go, Kevin is now a Bioinformatic Analyst for Catalytic, and Alex now works as a
veterinary diagnostic clinician in sunny Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Nicole Foley joins the lab

Dr. Nicole Foley in her officeWe recently welcomed a new postdoctoral associate, Dr. Nicole Foley, to the lab. Nicole obtained her Ph.D. at Emma Teeling’s Bat Lab at University College Dublin, where she worked on the role of
telomeres in bat aging. Nicole is currently studying the role of recombination, hybridization, and chromosome evolution in mammalian phylogenomics as part of a new three-year NSF award to
improve phylogenetic inference.

Dr. Gang Li starts his own lab

Dr. Gang LiCongratulations to Dr. Gang Li, former Murphy Lab Research Associate, who
is starting his new lab at the College of Life Science, Shaanxi Normal
University, in China.

Dr. Victor Mason's Paper in Journal of Heredity

Dr. Victor Mason with the Journal of Heredity coverFormer graduate student Dr. Victor Mason’s paper on Comparative Southeast Asian Biogeography was just published in the Journal of Heredity. His paper describes the
application of genomic tools to museum specimens to infer the evolutionary history and phylogeography of several forest-dependent mammals: Sunda colugos, lesser and greater mouse deer, and Sunda pangolins. This work was performed in collaboration with Dr. Kris Helgen from the University of Adelaide.