Joel Johnstun

Johnstun, Joel

Ph.D. Student
Group: Dr. Robert Anholt Laboratory

Research Project description:

I study Drosophila chemoreceptor and odorant binding protein paralogs and their interactions relative to a broad spectrum of phenotypes to determine the extent of functional redundancy, diversification, and pleiotropy on the organismal level. I have used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to generate several gene cluster knockout lines in which several paralogous genes have been disrupted. Several of these lines have demonstrated significant developmental and behavioral differences from the wild-type line, including altered developmental time, morphology, the height of pupation, aversion to odorants, and various aspects of mating behavior. The generation of re-insertion lines in which individual paralogs or combinations thereof have been integrated into the endogenous site via PhiC31 will enable the assessment of the fates of duplicated genes, whether that is functional redundancy or diversification. In addition, I am currently investigating the combinatorial olfactory code in Drosophila by using GMDH Forecasting machine learning software to predict responses of these transgenic lines to novel olfactory stimuli based on known responses to a panel of structurally-diverse odorants.