The research in the Stewart laboratory is aimed at understanding the molecular
basis for adaptive evolution in complex organisms, using the primates
as the comparative system. Our approaches include generation of comparative
DNA sequence data, biochemical characterization of certain protein families,
and bioinformatic analysis of such data sets.
We have several projects, some in collaboration with other research groups.
As a framework for our comparative studies, we are determining the phylogeny
of the Old World monkeys by sequencing and analyzing complete mitochondrial
genomes and unlinked nuclear genes. Using these data, we are also studying
the adaptive co-evolution of mitochondrial- and nuclear-encoded respiratory
proteins. Another project involves analysis of transposable elements in primate
genes and genomes. Through comparative genomic analysis, we are searching
for the genetic basis of human evolution.
Current and Planned Research Projects:
- Old World monkey molecular phylogeny, in collaboration with Todd
Disotell's laboratory (New York University). See NIH grant abstract
- Adaptive co-evolution of mtDNA- and nDNA-encoded OXPHOS proteins, in collaboration
with researchers at several institutions including Larry Grossman and Morris
Goodman (Wayne State University), Todd Disotell (NYU), and David Pollock
(Louisiana State University).
- Development and testing of methods and computer programs for the detection
of adaptive molecular evolution and co-evolution (Jason de Koning), in collaboration
with George Berg (Department of Computer Sciences, SUNYA), David Pollock
(Louisiana State University), and Ziheng Yang (University College, London).
- Insertion and evolution of transposable elements, particularly Alu elements,
in primate genes and genomes (John Schienman, Alia Khan & Jeremy Semeiks).
- Search for the genetic basis of human evolution (several interrelated
projects, some collaborative).