Andrés Posso-Terranova, GIFS Post-doctoral researcher in the area of Seed and Developmental Biology, was recently featured in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix Young Innovators series for research he is conducting into mutated frog genes as part of his lecturer in biology position at the University of Saskatchewan.
Posso-Terranova and his former supervisor José Andrés, have identified the gene responsible for the black blobs and stripes that make the colours on the Colombian dart frog stand out. They found evidence that a single gene called MC1R controls the deep black colour on the skin of these poisonous frogs, and that the disruption of the gene is responsible for the black blobs and stripes. Their results were recently published this week in the international journal Evolution.
Although poison frogs and plants belong to two different groups of living organisms, they both share essential features at the molecular level. Therefore, the same methods to study their DNA can be used to shed light about the mechanisms behind their adaptation and survival in nature (i.e. disease resistance, adaptation to climatic change, reproductive traits, etc.)
At GIFS, under supervision of Dr. Tim Sharbel, Andrés is studying natural populations of plants that possess high levels of genetic diversity for these valuable traits. The main goal of this research is to identify beneficial genetic variants for their use in plant breeding programs that aim to increase crop performance by exploiting genetic diversity.
Andrés was born in Palmira, Colombia. He has a BSc in Biology from Universidad del Valle, a MSc in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the National University of Colombia, and a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Saskatchewan.