Visualizing Our Hypothesis

By Sonia Kabra

Greetings from the harpy genome research team! As Bailey mentioned in her previous post, we presented our poster at the Science Division Undergraduate Research Poster Conference at Earlham last Friday. It was an amazing opportunity to share our data and hypotheses with our peers, professors, and Earlham alumni. Everyone in the group has a small section in the poster that explained their hypothesis. Ashley’s was about MHC, Rachel looked at behavioral genes, Bailey’s was about olfactory genes, and I had a section on bone morphogenetic gene and craniofacial development. Making the poster was a challenge for everyone in the team, especially because we had to be concise, but communicate our ideas in an effective manner. I really enjoyed explaining the poster at the conference.

From the start of this Ford/Knight experience we have read a lot of scientific literature. I have definitely gotten better at reading scientific articles. We read this really cool paper about hummingbirds, which looked at the size of the genome in relation to the metabolic demand of the bird and its size. I got be really interested into the relationship between the genome size and body mass of birds. I even graphed body mass and genome size of 15 accipitridae species. The graph showed that the body mass and and genome size are positively correlated. This increased my curiosity about the relationship between morphology and the genome even more.

While reading another paper about the Tibetan ground tit genome, I came across bone morphogenetic protein 4 and its role in craniofacial development. The bone morphogenetic protein 4 (bmp4) gene has been associated with variation in bill size and depth. Previous studies have explored the role of bmp4 in songbirds, both within and among species. I am investigating bmp4 variation in raptors, birds with some of the largest bills. Raptors also have bill modifications for ripping and tearing meat, including a pronounced hook in most species.

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