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Ph.D. University of California, Riverside
Phone: (818) 677-6362
Fax: (818) 677-2034
Office: Chaparral Hall 5418
My research interests lie in looking at evolutionary processes that are involved in genome change. Using bioinformatics and molecular tools I am looking at the evolutionary history of genes through the study of gene families. Plant genomes appear to have recruited copies of genes resulting in many gene families. To better understand this I have looked at the recruitment and redundancy of two nuclear plant gene families chalcone synthase (CHS) and myb. At this point I am continuing to look at these gene families addressing questions of recruitment and rates of recruitment.
CHS is an enzymatic structural gene involved in the biosynthetic pathway leading to anthocyanins, flavonoids and aurones. This gene family appears to have recent duplications within lineages of plant families suggesting that recent recruitment has occurred in these plant genomes. I am currently trying to isolate more members of this gene family from closely related monocots and dicots to address questions of rates of recruitment. In particular, I have begun work on more members in Poaceae (grasses) and palms and from other dicots such as representatives of the plant family Asteraceae (sunflowers).
Plant myb genes are transcription factors involved in regulating many biosynthetic pathways in plants. Some members of this gene family are involved in regulating CHS and other genes in the phenylproponoid pathways. The plant myb gene family appears to be very large and ancient. I am continuing to look for more members of this gene family in the grasses and palms. Both of these gene families appear to have a different evolutionary history suggesting that different evolutionary forces are acting on these genes. Further study will help enhance our understanding of these processes in genome evolution.
Students would be involved in these studies or any other studies that will help address the question of recruitment and redundancy of nuclear plant gene families. Students will master many molecular techniques that include PCR, isolating genomic DNA, screening genomic libraries, cloning, sequencing, Southerns, Northerns, and in vitro studies of expression. Students will also learn how to use the gene databases and computer methods for analysis, all of which fall under the new field of bioinformatics.
Recent and seminal publications (* student at the time work was done)
in press-2012? Harris M*, Meyer G*, Vandergon T, Vandergon VO. Loss of the Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase (accD) gene in the Poales" has been accepted for publication in Plant Molecular Biology Reporter
Herr N, Rivas M, Foley B, Vandergon V, Simila G, d'Alessio M, Potsma H. 2011. Computer supported collaborative education - strategies for using collaborative web-based technologies to engage all learners. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education, January 3-7, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Herr N, Rivas M, Foley B, Vandergon V, Simila G. 2011, Using collaborative web-based documents to instantly collect and analyze whole class data. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education, January 3-7, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Sims R*, Vandergon VO, Malone CS. 2011. The mouse B cell-specific mb-1 gene encodes an immunoreceptor tyrosine- based activation motif (ITAM) protein that may be evolutionarily conserved in diverse species by purifying selection. Molecular Biology Report.
2000. Oberholzer, Virginia, Mary Durbin, and Michael Clegg. Comparative genomics of chalcone synthase and Myb genes in the grass family. Genes Genet. Syst. 75: 1-16
1997. Morton, B.R., Oberholzer, V.M. and Clegg, M.T. The influence of specific neighboring bases on substitution dynamics in noncoding regions of the plant chloroplast genome. Journal of Molecular Evolution 45 3:227-231.
I am also involved in K-12 science outreach. My main project at the moment is my involvement with the California Science project. The link below provides information about the project: http://www.csun.edu/~vceed002/csp/csp.htm