Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
Banister Hall - 113
Considers the application of computational tools to the evolving analytical landscape of genomic- and transcriptomic-scale data in the field of organismal biology. Students explore the concepts of appropriate experimental design and data collection for hypothesis testing using big data. Coding skills needed to navigate the ever-changing analytical framework in bioinformatics are refined. Real data sets of DNA and RNA sequences--some collected from marine animals in the Gulf of Maine--are anlayzed. Practical applications emphasize the fundamentals of both frequentist and Bayesian statistical frameworks.
I am a molecular ecologist interested in gene flow across species boundaries as well as changing selective pressures associated with climate change. I utilize natural population variation to link genotype and phenotype. I have conducted research on many different taxa, from cetaceans to birds to molluscs. Currently, I am focusing on blue mussels in the Gulf of Maine and their adaptive potential in the face of ocean acidification.
As physical and chemical features of the ocean change in response to the changing climate, marine calcifiers face the biochemical and physiological challenge of maintaining calcium carbonate shell structure in a more acidic environment. A key component to understanding organismal response to this multifactorial stressor is linking underlying genetic variation to phenotypic variation in stress response. Our current project aims to take advantage of the genomic gradient across the blue mussel hybrid zone (Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus) in the Gulf of Maine to link genetic variation with variance in calcification rates in response to lower pH, higher temperatures, and reduced food availability. We are employing the power of next generation DNA sequencing techniques to generate highly multilocus genotypes for population genomic analysis and genome-wide association survey.
In the context of my Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution course, students and I investigate the spatial and ecotype population structure in native Littorine snails (Littorina obtusata and L. saxatilis) in the Gulf of Maine, also using next generation DNA sequencing and population genomic analyses.
Kingston, S.E., Parchman, T.P., Gompert, Z., Buerkle, C.A., and Braun, M.J. 2017. Heterogeneity and concordance in locus-specific differentiation and introgression between species of towhees. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 10.1111/jeb/13033.
Kingston S.E., Navarro-Sigüenza A.G., García-Trejo E.A., Vázquez H., Fagan W.F., Braun M.J. 2014. Genetic differentiation and habitat connectivity across towhee hybrid zones in Mexico. Evolutionary Ecology. 28(2): 277-297. 10.1007/s10682-013-9673-8.
Kingston S.E., Jernigan R.W., Fagan W.F., Braun D., Braun M.J. 2012. Genomic variation in cline shape across a hybrid zone. Ecology and Evolution 2 (11): 2737–2748. 10.1002/ece1003.1375.
Kingston S.E., Adams L.D., Rosel P.E. 2009. Testing mitochondrial sequences and anonymous nuclear markers for phylogeny reconstruction in a rapidly radiating group: molecular systematics of the Delphininae (Cetacea: Odontoceti: Delphinidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:245. *highly accessed*
Kingston S.E., Rosel P.E. 2004. Genetic differentiation among recently diverged Delphinid taxa determined using AFLP markers. Journal of Heredity 95: 1-10.
Different color morphs of the snail Littorina obtusata in rockweed (L)
A blue mussel being dissected for a tissue sample in order to extract DNA (R)
Close up of several periwinkle snails, Littorina obtusata
A view of the Maine coast near Mt Desert Island
Approaching Mount Desert Rock (25 miles out to sea)
Blue mussels in intertidal habitat on Mt Desert Rock
Measuring salinity, pH, oxygen, and temperature in the waters of Mount Desert Rock