Retinal Diseases: Experimental comparisons of human and bovine rhodopsin

Congratulations to James Morrow and other Chang lab members who recently published a study in FEBS letters. James is now a Forensic Scientist with the Ontario Government.

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Fish living in extreme environments adapt ability to see

How do variables other than light, such as temperature, affect the evolution of the visual system?  New research in PNAS by Chang lab postdoctoral fellow Gianni Castiglione et al. studied the vision pigment rhodopsin in nocturnal high-altitude catfishes, finding that the pigments kinetic rates have sped up at high altitudes in order to compensate for decreases in ambient temperature.

Featured in: Science Newsline, Phys.Org, Science Daily, UofT News

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Context Matters: Epistasis in a Whale Visual Gene

Does a genetic mutation in one organism have the same effect in another from a different species? New research from Ph.D. candidate Sarah Dungan in Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences highlights a case where parallel genetic changes don’t necessarily correspond to parallel phenotypic (trait) changes. This epistasis means that the functional roles of rhodopsin mutations in the visual evolution of whales, and the nature of the selective pressures behind them, need to be reassessed.

Congrats Sarah!

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Capturing coding-sequences across divergent species

Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Ryan Schott who published a novel approach for capturing full-length coding-sequences in Genome Biology and Evolution!

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Cone-like rhodopsin in the all-cone Colubrid retina

Congratulations to Ph.D. candidates Nihar Bhattacharyya and Ryan Schott for their new paper on in the Journal of Experimental Biology!  The study is highlighted in an “Inside JEB” feature, and is the current “Editor’s choice”!

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SMBE 2017

We are proud to announce that Belinda Chang has been elected to the SMBE council! Belinda has also been nominated as an Editor for the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Congratulations Belinda!

Congratulations also to Ph.D. candidate Eduardo de Almeida Gutierrez, who gave a great poster: “Rhodopsin function elucidates visual adaptation to dim light and highlights contrasting sensory specializations in bats

Well done Belinda and Eduardo!

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Chang Lab Presentations at Evolution 2017

Our lab’s talks and posters at Evolution 2017 were a big success! Recorded talks will be available soon. Congratulations everyone!

  1. Functional changes in bat dim-light visual pigment evolution are associated with differing echolocation abilities. Eduardo de Almeida Gutierrez, Gianni M. Castiglione, James M. Morrow, and Belinda Chang 
  2. Evolutionary and ecological implications of chromophore usage In Rhodopsin. Nihar Bhattacharya, Frances E. Hauser, James M. Morrow, Akimori Wada, and Belinda Chang 
  3. Visual evolution in marine-derived Amazonian fishes. Alexander Van Nynatten, Belinda Chang, and Nathan Lovejoy 
  4. Photoreceptor transmutation in snakes and geckos. Ryan Schott, and Belinda Chang.
  5. Functional divergence of the dim-light opsin accompanies cichlid invasion of Central America. Frances E. Hauser, Katriina Ilves, Gianni M. Castiglione, Ryan Schott,Hernan Lopez-Fernandez, and Belinda Chang
  6. Convergent cold-adaptations of the visual pigment rhodopsin at high altitudes. Gianni M. Castiglione, Nathan Lujan, and Belinda Chang 
  7. Dim-light vision in ancient whales: Reconstructing the ancestral cetacean rhodopsin. Sarah Dungan and Belinda Chang 
  8. Coevolutionary forces reveal an alternative origin for dim-light vision. Gianni M. Castiglione, and Belinda Chang 
  9. Transcriptome sequencing reveals divergent selective pressures on snake visual transduction genes associated with rod-cone transmutation. Ryan Schott, Alexander Van Nynatten, Daren Card, Todd Castoe, and Belinda Chang




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Three new publications: Protein Science, Nature Communications, and Journal of Experimental Biology

We have three new publication announcements to make, covering the last two papers of 2016, and the first of 2017.

In 2016, Chang Lab members in collaboration with Professor John A. Endler (Deakin University) published “A comparative study of rhodopsin function in the great bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis): Spectral tuning and light-activated kinetics” in the journal Protein Science.

Shortly thereafter, Raphael B. Di Roberto and co-advisors Belinda Chang and Sergio G. Peisajovich contributed to a Nature Communications article titled “Evolution of a G protein-coupled receptor response by mutations in regulatory network interactions“.

And finally, to begin 2017, Chang Lab contributors James M. Morrow, Ryan K. Schott, Eduardo de A. Gutierrez, and Belinda S.W. Chang published “A second visual rhodopsin gene, rh1-2, is expressed in zebrafish photoreceptors and found in other ray-finned fishes” in Journal of Experimental Biology.

Happy 2017!

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Congratulations to Gianni on a successful PhD defense!

On October 12, 2016, lab member Gianni Castiglione successfully defended his PhD thesis titled “Functional Characterization and Molecular Evolutionary Analyses of Rhodopsin in Fishes and other Vertebrates”. Dr. Castiglione will continue his work in the Chang lab as a Post-Doc. Congratulations Gianni!

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Two new publications: Mitochondrial DNA and The Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology

From Elbassiouny et al. (in collaboration with Chang Lab members Ryan K. Schott, Alexander Van Nynatten, and B.S.W. Chang) in Mitochondrial DNA Part B: Resources, is a mitogenome announcement entitled Mitochondrial genomes of the South American electric knifefishes (Order Gymnotiformes).

Next, Gutierrez et al. have contributed a chapter detailing Sensory Systems: Molecular Evolution in Vertebrates in the latest edition (vol. 4) of The Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology, published by Elsevier and Oxford: Academic Press.

Happy summer everyone!

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