Research in the Jones Lab falls into a number of areas, most of which are under the umbrella of evolutionary biology. The main current topics are:
Sexual Selection. We study sexual selection from empirical and theoretical perspectives. On the empirical front, we mainly study fishes of the family Syngnathidae. This family includes seahorses, pipefishes, and seadragons. They are interesting from a sexual selection standpoint, because they are characterized by male pregnancy. Males of many syngnathid fishes have pouches and females deposit eggs in the pouch. The male carries the developing embryos until they are born as independent, free-swimming fry.
Functional Genomics. We are developing tools for functional genomics in the Gulf pipefish (Syngnathus scovelli) and dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae). The Cresko Lab at University of Oregon has sequenced the Gulf pipefish genome, with some help from us. We are in the process of sequencing the dwarf seahorse genome. Husbandry techniques have been worked out for both species, and they mature at a reasonable age of 3-6 months. The current challenge is to develop reliable techniques to visualize and alter patterns of gene expression in these species.
Genomics and Bioinformatics. Our lab uses a variety of next-generation sequencing approaches to study patterns of gene expression, molecular evolution, and population genomics in syngnathid fishes. We are particularly interested in how changes in mating systems and sexual selection have affected protein evolution in different syngnathid taxa, and how spatially varying environments have impacted evolutionary processes in coastal pipefishes.
Computational Biology and Complex Trait Evolution. The Jones Lab is also interested in how the genetic architecture evolves and influences the evolution of complex traits. We tackle this question from a theoretical perspective by using sophisticated agent-based simulations.