2015  -  S U M M E R  B R I D G E  -  R E U

“Utilizing Population Genetics And Bioinformatics Tools to Determine Population Structure And Connectivity of Tropical Marine Invertebrates” is an intensive research experience for undergraduates (REU) in organismic and evolutionary biology. Designed as a collaborative effort between the laboratory of marine and evolutionary genomics at the university of Miami and the STEM FYE program at Miami Dade College, the program seeks to provide first-time-in-college students with a comprehensive research experience encompassing the four main components of modern biological research: theoretical discussion, fieldwork, bench (wet-laboratory) work and bioinformatics. As a result of their participation students are expected to achieve the following goals: (1) work as a team to complete the proposed project, (2) learn basic laboratory methods to conduct scientific research, (3) learn basic techniques to perform DNA extraction, quantification and processing, (4) learn basic to use basic bioinformatics tool to analyze DNA data, (5) produce and present a written research summary and a research poster.


Anthropogenic disturbances have affected several ecosystems around the biosphere. These disturbances are associated with the rapid introduction of new forms of environmental stresses potentially impacting the distribution and health of biodiversity. Population genetics combined with bioinformatics offer powerful tools to measure important parameters associated with the current state of an ecosystem’s biodiversity. Particularly, measuring levels of genetic variation and population connectivity within and among populations will help assessing their ability to respond to rapid environmental changes. This project seeks to train students in the basic techniques utilized to obtain and analyze genetic parameters using nucleotide data. We will obtain and analyze the nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial gene Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit I  (COI) from populations of tropical marine invertebrates. This data will be used to determine parameters such as nucleotide diversity (π), population differentiation (Fst), Isolation by distance/connectivity (IBD), and reconstructions of population structure (phylogeny/others). Students will make sense of this data within an ecological context in order to understand the relationship between genetic variation and ecosystem dynamics. 

The REU Team for 2015:

-Jessica Diaz

-Mia Cayard

-Giancarlo Varela

-Abraham Felix

Bioinformatics Lecture Videos (Click here)