Douglas Taylor

Sharing High-Tech Resources

Douglas Taylor, Professor and Chair of Biology

In the Taylor Lab, students and post-docs work with biology professor Doug Taylor to study population genetics and molecular evolution. A particular focus of the lab is to study the evolution of rapidly evolving genomes. In the plant genus Silene, Professor Taylor and his students have discovered unprecedented rates of evolution in the mitochondrial genome, associated with rapid changes in genome size and complexity. The system is now a model for studying the evolutionary processes that have shaped the genomic complexity in plants, animals, and fungi.

One of the most exciting developments in the field of biology in recent decades has been the rapid advance of DNA sequencing technology. With these advances comes the need for high-end computation that’s not available with local computer resources. With the help of UVACSE’s Tiger Team, the Taylor Lab set up their DNA sequence analysis pipeline on the University’s Cross Campus Grid.

“They were valuable partners in this project, taking the time to meet with us and develop the tools for our custom needs. Simply put, we could not have completed this analysis without them,” said Professor Taylor.

The dataset generated by this Taylor Lab project is now available as an onlinedatabase that is being accessed by labs all over the world. Professor Taylor is working on a paper that describes this genomic resource and the dataset represents an important tool being utilized in a recently funded NSF study of the interaction between multiple genomes within cells.

This project also contributed preliminary data to a major NSF award on the evolution of plant mitochondrial genomes and their ongoing coevolution with the nuclear genome. Doctoral students Dan Sloan, Andrea Berardi, Peter Fields, and Brian Sanderson are using these genomic resources in their dissertation research. The rapid public dissemination of the data from this project has led to the formation of an international consortium to generate, assemble, and disseminate genomic resources in these plant species to the broader research community.