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Molecular Systematics Lab

Supervisor: Hector Miranda Jr.     SB 318

Undergraduate student Samantha Pullum performing gel electrophoresis for DNA sequencing.

The laboratory of Dr. Miranda seeks to address questions on process and pattern of speciation using mitochondrial and nuclear markers. The focus of research is on Asian pheasants, birds of prey and owls. The foundation of this research is the extensive field research conducted by Dr. Miranda in the mountains of the Philippines beginning in the 1990’s, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Kennedy (now retired), former Research Director of the Cincinnati Museum Center, and Pedro Gonzales (also retired) of the Philippine National Museum.

The laboratory is equipped with basic molecular biology equipment such thermal cyclers, incubators, -80 ultra freezer, and gel documentation system. The lab routinely generates DNA sequence and perform sequence analysis such as sequence alignment, assembly, and phylogenetic analysis using parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian approaches. Bioinformatics  tools such as Geneious Pro (Biomatters, New Zealand) are used to process molecular sequence such as complete mitochondrial genomes data to test hypotheses on organismal and gene evolution.

Dr. Miranda currently collaborates with Dr. Daniel Brooks and Timothy McSweeny of the Houston Museum of Natural Science on the molecular ecology and phylogeography of pheasants, specifically on the genus Polyplectron and Lophura, Philippine owls, and North American bats.


Recently, the laboratory is exploring the application of the metagenomics approach to understand microbial community structure and phylogenetic diversity of areas affected by environmental perturbations like the Houston flooding due to Hurricane Harvey in 2017.