Just returned from an excellent trip to the southern Appalachians! The primary goal was to collect samples of the federally-endangered Spruce-fir moss spider (Microhexura montivaga) for Illumina NGS transcriptome work. From these transcriptomes we’ll develop rapidly-evolving genetic markers for downstream population genomics of all known metapopulations. We’re interested in levels of genetic variation within and among metapopulations, patterns of genetic connectivity, and the possibility of cryptic divergence.
This research is derived from a collaboration with Dr. Fred Coyle, retired Biology Professor from Western Carolina University, and Sue Cameron, Endangered Species Biologist with the USFSW at Asheville. I personally received a huge amount of help on the last trip from Dr. Jason Bond of Auburn University, who hauled me around the mountains, helped collect spiders, and facilitated RNA extraction from the spiders. And I can’t thank Fred enough for putting us up, showing us spiders, and providing general inspiration!