I'm pleased to be able to post some photos taken on a visit to Dartmouth College, where I spent the day with Dr. Laurel Symes. At the time, Dr. Symes was a PhD candidate. She carried out research on speciation - and focused on the SubFamily of Oecanthinae to gather data. Laurel gave me a tour of the equipment she used to extract minute amounts of tree cricket DNA that was analyzed. A more detailed explanation is posted below these photos.
These tiny plastic vials contained selected parts from adult tree crickets and were awaiting further processing.
This is a Spectral Analyzer. This is the machine that gives the DNA sequence results.
This is Laurel explaining the process involved in carrying out her research.
Here is a synopsis of Laurel's research: One application of DNA sequencing is determining the relationships among species. Similar to the genetic paternity tests used to determine the relatedness of people, DNA sequencing can be used to determine the relatedness of species.
The second step is to use the resulting DNA sequences and a set of computer programs to determine how similar the sequences are. Given that all organisms share a common ancestor, species that diverged more recently should have gene sequences that are more similar. By comparing the similarities and differences among sequences for all of the species that you are interested in, it is possible to build a phylogenetic tree—a diagram showing how species are related. The following website provides additional details on building and interpreting phylogenetic trees: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/phylogenetics_01
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