Diversity, Evolution, and EcoPhysiology of Ctenophores (DEEPC) Project

More than 90 percent of the inhabitable space on earth is in the ocean below 200 meters, making it by far the largest habitat on the planet, yet life there is largely a mystery to science. Over evolutionary time, many marine animal lineages have made extraordinary habitat transitions to and from the deep sea. This habitat is tremendously different from the shallow ocean in many respects, including light, temperature, stability, food availability, pH, oxygen content, and hydrostatic pressure. Despite the exceptional adaptive challenges required to transition between deep and shallow marine environments, relatively little is understood about the genetic and physiological changes that accompany these major evolutionary events. In collaboration with the Haddock Lab (MBARI) and the Thuesen Lab (Evergreen State College), we are using genomics to understand evolutionary pressures that drive diversification in ctenophores comparing animals in deep and shallow sea habitats.