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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Pennsylvania State Univ University Park
  • James H Marden
  • (814) 863-1384
Award Date:02/17/2010
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 414,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 440,785
  • FY 2010=$157,785
  • FY 2012=$166,000
  • FY 2011=$117,000
Start Date:03/01/2010
End Date:08/31/2013
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Physiological genomics of a polymorphic locus affecting dispersal and ecological dynamics
Federal Award ID Number:0950416
DUNS ID:003403953
Parent DUNS ID:003403953
Program:Integrtv Ecological Physiology

Awardee Location

Street:110 Technology Center Building
County:University Park
Awardee Cong. District:12

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Pennsylvania State Univ University Park
Street:110 Technology Center Building
County:University Park
Cong. District:12

Abstract at Time of Award

Name: Marden, James H. Proposal Number: IOS 0950416 Project Title: Physiological Genomics of a Polymorphism Locus Affecting Dispersal and Ecological Dynamics This project will examine how allelic variation in the succinate dehydrogenase d (sdhd) gene affects metabolism and locomotion physiology of an insect that is a model species for metapopulation biology. Succinate dehydrogenase d (Sdhd) is a nuclear gene that encodes a subunit of the mitochondrial enzyme SDH, which links the TCA cycle to the electron transport chain. In addition to its central role in metabolism, SDH affects the hypoxia inducible pathway that controls insect tracheal morphogenesis (and human diseases such as vascularized tumors). In Melitaea cinxia butterflies, preliminary data show that Sdhd alleles are associated with differences in SDH catalytic rate (Vmax), flight endurance, ability to disperse and establish new populations, and demographics of established populations. By revealing the mechanistic links between genes, development, physiology, and ecological dynamics, this study will provide an unusually detailed picture of coupled ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Data will be used in models that enable a more detailed and predictive understanding of factors that affect regional persistence of species (which depends on metapopulation processes, including dispersal ability), and which can be generalized to examine the role of genetic and physiological variation in resiliency, disturbance, and climate change. The study is part of an ongoing collaboration with the University of Helsinki. Students will gain experience conducting international collaborative science and will receive training in integrative biology. Genomics tools developed in this research will promote and facilitate the application of new functional genomics technology to organismal, ecological, and evolutionary biology.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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de O Buanafina MM, Fescemyer HW. "Modification of esterified cell wall phenolics increases vulnerability of tall fescue to herbivory by the fall armyworm." Planta, v.236, 2012, p.513-523. doi:10.1007/s00425-012-1625-y 

Gäde G, Simek P, Fescemyer HW "Adipokinetic hormones provide inference for the phylogeny of odonata" J Insect Physiol., v.57, 2011, p.174-178. doi:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.11.002 

Fescemyer HW, Sandoya GV, Gill TA, Ozkan S, Marden JH, Luthe DS. "Maize toxin degrades peritrophic matrix proteins and stimulates compensatory transcriptome responses in fall armyworm midgut" Insect Biochem Mol Biol., v.43, 2013, p.280-291. doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.12.008 

; Garland, T.; Marden, J.H.; Zera, A.J. "Locomotion in response to shifting climate zones: not so fast." Annual Review of Physiology, v.72, 2010, p.167.

Wheat, CW., Fescemyer, HW., Kvist, J., Tas, E., Vera, J.C., Frilander, M.J., Hanski, I., Marden J.H. "Functional genomics of life history variation in a butterfly metapopulation" Molecular Ecology, v.20, 2011, p.1813. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05062.x 

Blanford S, Shi W, Christian R, Marden JH, Koekemoer LL, Brooke BD, Coetzee M, Read AF, Thomas MB. "Lethal and pre-lethal effects of a fungal biopesticide contribute to substantial and rapid control of malaria vectors" PLoS One, v.6, 2011, p.e23591. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023591 

Schilder, RJ., Kimball, SR., Marden, JH., Jefferson, LS. "Body weight-dependent troponin T alternative splicing is evolutionarily conserved from insects to mammals and partially impaired in skeletal muscle of obese rats" Journal of Experimental Biology, v.214, 2011, p.1523.

James H. Marden, Howard W. Fescemyer, Rudolf J. Schilder, William R. Doerfler, Juan C. Vera and Christopher W. Wheat "GENETIC VARIATION IN HIF SIGNALING UNDERLIES QUANTITATIVE VARIATION IN PHYSIOLOGICAL AND LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS WITHIN LOWLAND BUTTERFLY POPULATIONS" Evolution, v.67, 2012, p.000-011. doi:10.1111/evo.12004 

Marden, JH "Reanalysis and experimental evidence indicate that the earliest trace fossil of a winged insect was a surface-skimming neopteran." Evolution, v.67, 2012, p.274-280. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01743.x 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

1. Overview

The central aim of this project was to examine how genetic variation in a gene that affects oxygen sensing is related to development of breathing tubes (tracheae), delivery of oxygen to the tissues, aerobic athletic performance (flight), and aging of the mitochondria.  We found that genetically distinct clades of Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) across a continental scale maintain, at intermediate frequencies, alleles in a metabolic enzyme (succinate dehydrogenase, SDH) that regulates HIF-1α. One Sdhd allele was associated with reduced SDH activity rate, twofold greater cross-sectional area of tracheoles in flight muscle, and better flight performance. Butterflies with less tracheal development had greater post-flight hypoxia signaling, swollen & disrupted mitochondria, and accelerated aging of flight metabolic performance. Allelic associations with metabolic and aging phenotypes were replicated in samples from different clades. Experimentally elevated succinate in pupae increased the abundance of HIF-1α and expression of genes responsive to HIF activation, including tracheal morphogenesis genes. These results indicate that the hypoxia inducible pathway, even in lowland populations, can be an important axis for genetic variation underlying intraspecific differences in oxygen delivery, physiological performance, and life history.


2. Key educational outcomes:

Graduate students J. Cris Vera and Scott L. Portman completed Ph.Ds. Undergraduate William (Reed) Doerfler completed his honors thesis, was co-author on a published paper, and graduated as the top student in the PSU Dept. of Biology (5/13). He is presently attending Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical School. Undergraduate Tahira West worked full time in the lab in summer 2012, supported by a fellowhship from Penn State's Summer Research Opportunities Program for underrespresented minorities. She graduated in May, 2013. Undergraduate Julianne Peckny collected key parts of the project data and is presently using that work as part of her honors thesis.


3. Outreach: 

We established a relationship with the GCAT-SEEK consortium, headed by nearby Juniata College, with whom we are working to instruct undergraduates directly and, via workshops, train interested faculty across the entire array of member institutions. This consortium has used NSF RCN funding to establish a relationship with the Penn State Genomics Core Facility. While access to machines, sequencing expertise and data transfer is a big step, there remains a need for training and assistance with experimentation and analyses, especially from biologists who speak the language of both bioinformatics and experimental biology. Much of the day-to-day work is being carried out by a post-doc (Dr. Mark Peterson, co-appointed between PSU and Juniata) who is advancing his training in functional genomics research at PSU while also gaining experience in college teaching and delivering workshops to faculty in the GCATSEEK consortium. The first of these workshops occurred during June 17-21, 2013, with participants from 16 different institutions and 11 states, including one minority-serving institution (Fort Lewis College, serving Native American Students). 

JHM was in 2011 an invited faculty mentor for Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellows (minority assistant professors in their fourth year) preparing for tenure review.

JHM was on the steering committee of a NSF-funded Grand Challenges in Organismal Biology workshop, which meet in November, 2012 for planning, then hosted a 40-person workshop in March, 2013, and by the end of March submitted ...

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.