Deborah A. Triant

I completed my Ph.D. in 2006 in the lab of Andrew DeWoody. My dissertation involved the molecular evolution of mitochondrial translocations within arvicoline rodents, particularly within the vole genus Microtus. I am currently a postdoc in comparative genomics working for Paul Samollow in the College of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University . My research will focus on the development of an EST database and the genome annotation of the short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica.

Microtus ochrogaster
Monodelphis domestica

Dissertation research:
Mitochondrial evolution within Microtus: Rodent genomes are known to evolve rapidly at both the sequence level and at the chromosomal level. The arvicoline rodents consist of the voles, lemmings and muskrats and the vole genus Microtus has a rate of evolution that is more rapid than most rodents: over 60 species have developed in less than two million years. Additionally, the rate
of chromosomal evolution within Microtus is among the fastest for mammals. To assess whether the rapid rate of evolution within microtine voles was also found within its mitochondrial genome, I sequenced the entire mitochondrial genome of a Eurasian vole, M. rossiaemeridionalis. After comparing rates of mitochondrial evolution across mammalian taxa, I found that rates were the highest within Microtus.

Mitochondrial transfers: Nuclear copies of mitochondrial fragments or numt pseudogenes are fragments of the mitochondrial DNA that have transferred from the mitochondrial genome to the nuclear genome. They have been identified in a variety of animals and plants but it is not known how or why these fragments integrate into the nucleus. Once identified, numts can be used to compare rates of mitochondrial and nuclear evolution and numt insertion sites can be examined to assess whether numts preferentially integrate into certain regions of the genome. I discovered multiple numt transfers within the Microtus nuclear genome including one transfer that encompassed over 25% of its mitochondrial genome. I characterized one of the numts pseudogenes in 21 additional arvicoline species and estimated that the transfer to the nucleus occurred ~4 MYA, predating the origins of most arvicolines. After comparing numt integration within Microtus to that of Mus and Rattus, I found that numt integration appears to be more extensive in Microtus than in other rodents.


Ph.D. Genetics, 2006, Purdue University
M.S. Wildlife Science, 2001, Louisiana State University
B.S. Psychology, 1990, Boston College


Teaching Experience:
Workshop on Molecular Evolution, Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab, 2006, Teaching assistant
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, 2001-2003, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Ecology and Systematics of Fishes and Mammals & Wildlife Investigational Techniques


Hartel,  K. E. & Triant, D. A. 1998. Pteraclis fasciatus Borodin 1930, a Caristiidae not a Bramidae. Copeia 3:746.

Triant, D. A., Pace, R. M. & Stine M. 2004. Abundance, genetic diversity and conservation of Louisiana black bears (Ursus americanus luteolus) as detected through noninvasive sampling. Conservation Genetics 5:647-659.

Triant, D. A. & DeWoody, J. A. 2006. Accelerated molecular evolution in Microtus (Rodentia) as assessed via complete mitochondrial genome sequences. Genetica, In press.

Triant, D. A. & DeWoody, J. A. The occurrence, detection and avoidance of mitochondrial DNA translocations in mammalian systematics and phylogeography. Journal of Mammalogy, In press.

Triant, D. A. & DeWoody, J. A. Molecular analyses of mitochondrial pseudogenes within the nuclear genome of arvicoline rodents. Genetica, In revision.

Triant, D. A. & DeWoody, J. A. Extensive numt transfer in a rapidly evolving rodent has been mediated by independent insertion events and by duplications. Submitted.


Professional Memberships:
American Society of Mammalogists
International Association for Bear Research and Management
Society for the Study of Evolution
Society of Systematic Biologists
The Wildlife Society 

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