Erin ScheunzelPh.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
B.A. (Biology) St. Mary's College of Maryland 2000
Research Interests: My current work includes understanding and identifying natural selection at the molecular level with bacterial genomes serving as my model organism. Using comparative genomic methods developed with my advisor Len Nunney, we have identified candidate genes for positive selection in the four sequenced genomes of the plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa. I also plan to extend this methods to the several genomes available for the bacteria of Chlamydia and Mycoplasma.
In addition to understanding the role natural selection plays in host adaptation in bacteria, I have used a subset of those candidate genes to better understand the evolution of X. fastidiosa in North America. I am currently completing, along with the post doc on the project, a phylogeny of multiple nuclear genes (over 10,000 bp), the first for X. fastidiosa. We've also indentified several recombination events, the first ever known to occur in X. fastidiosa and have developed a multi-locus sequence typing methodology and restriction enzyme digest to identifiy strains.