Do repetitive elements contribute to variation in chromosome structure between populations?

Much of an animal's genome is made up of selfish genetic elements. They can invade populations, spread rapidly and have the potential to cause large-scale chromosomal rearrangements. The social huntsman spider Delena cancerides has extreme variation in chromosomal structure between populations. This can lead to unusual features, such as genome-wide asymmetric chromosomal segregation between the sexes. This project focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of genomic variation in Delena. It should reveal how chromosomes evolve, and the consequences of these events for populations and species. There are two sub-projects:

  • We would like to identify repetitive elements within its genome and to see whether they vary in abundance across populations of different chromosomal types. We already have sequence data, and this project will focus on comparing long-read and short-read sequencing approaches for identifying repetitive elements.
  • Constructing a linkage map of D. cancerides to confirm that sexes within a brood have asymmetric relatedness (like that of hymenopteran social insects).