Project Title: Molecular phylogeny of cusk eels (Teleostei: Ophidiiformes: Ophidiidae)

Faculty Sponsor: Kevin Tang

Department: Biolgy

Telephone: 810.766.6793


Project Description: Cusk-eels (family Ophidiidae) are an enigmatic group of bony fishes that are found predominantly in marine waters around the world.  The family is comprised of four subfamilies with more than 200 species total.  The evolutionary relationships between the species  of cusk-eels remain poorly understood as does the relationship of the family to other members of the order Ophidiiformes.  The purpose of this project is to reconstruct a phylogeny of the cusk-eels (family Ophidiidae) and determine its relationship to other fishes in the order.  To accomplish this, genomic DNA will be extracted from representatives of all four subfamilies.  Nine genes from their respective genomes will be amplified and then sequenced using standard molecular biology techniques.  To generate the tree of relationships, the data will be combined and then analyzed using modern phylogeny reconstruction methods (e.g., maximum likelihood, parsimony).  The results of this study will provide an evolutionary framework that will be used to revise the classification.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities: The student assistant will help conduct experiments to collect, process, and analyze data.  Collection of data will involve purifying fish DNA from tissue samples and then amplifying and sequencing target DNA.  These procedures will follow well-established laboratory protocols.  The majority of the assistant’s responsibilities and activities will involve the collection of data.

Minimum Student Qualifications: