January 28, 2021

Lauren Sapp (North Carolina State University)

Identifying genetic incompatibilities that reduce fitness in natural populations

Fall 2020 Graduate Student Award in Social and Biological Determinants of Health


The incredible diversity of life on Earth excites scientists as we work to better understand the genetic influences and mechanisms driving the formation of species. When two different species mate and produce offspring, genetic differences between the two species may prevent the creation of viable and/or fertile offspring. These barriers are referred to as genetic incompatibilities and have been identified in many species including humans. However, the specific genes and biological processes responsible for these incompatibilities remain largely uncharacterized. Our work will utilize the robust Saccharomyces yeast model to study the genetic basis of speciation by identifying genetic differences between yeast strains that contribute to offspring viability (known as spore viability). Saccharomyces yeast have been used as a genetic model system for decades, so with this system, we will further our understanding of the genetic contributions of species divergence in a model system that translates to other eukaryotes.