Evolution of Gliding Mammals

Gliding membranes are specialized structures which develop along the axial-lateral region, or at the boundary of dorsal/ventral axis. This structure is known to have evolved independently at least six different times within mammals. In the Mallarino lab, we are trying to uncover the spatial and temporal signals that instruct this tissue to form and expand.

My current research specifically focuses on the evolution of gliding in marsupials. I am studying the genomic and developmental mechanisms that underlie gliding membrane formation in sugar gliders to understand how this novel structures originates. The super family Petauroidea, houses two other gliding species, the greater glider and the feathertail glider. I am employing a comparative genomics approach across this group to identify adaptively evolving conserved non-coding regions that may have important regulatory function in the developing gliding membrane.

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