Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Novia Kayfetz-Vuong L&S Sciences

Analysis of Gene Flow Between Neighboring Poison Frog Species in Ecuador

In Ecuador, the Epipedobates clade of poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) have speciated in different climate zones (Tarvin et al., 2017). Poison frogs are aposematic; they possess colorations and markings that serve to warn predators of their toxic defenses. Determining poison frog species can be difficult due to aposematism, as possessing different color and marking patterns does not necessarily indicate a separate species (Tarvin et al., 2017). Thus, genomic level studies are necessary to understand ongoing gene flow, i.e., the introduction of genetic material from one species to another through interbreeding. Advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) has allowed increased research on how climate change affects biodiversity and gene flow between species. Gene flow studies are important in evolution as they help us to understand the speciation process. The goal of this project is to understand how climate differences affect gene flow among neighboring poison frog species using genomic information. To do this, I will be extracting DNA from over 300 tissue samples and then using restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) to quantify and compare gene flow through bioinformatic analyses.

Message To Sponsor

I wish to thank the Zara Fund for sponsoring my summer project. I learned a lot about the research process and how to troubleshoot when answering questions. This SURF experience has helped me to identify a field of interest that I hope to pursue, genomics. This opportunity has also made me more confident in my ability to do research because I have always felt imposter syndrome over my capabilities.
Profile image of Novia Kayfetz-Vuong
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Integrative Biology
Mentor: Rebecca D. Tarvin
Sponsor: Zara Fund
Back to Listings
Back to Donor Reports