Wayne Lab

UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Wayne Lab’s research projects cover a wide range of species and utilize a multitude of molecular approaches. From exploring contemporary population dynamics to evolutionary relationships, current projects utilize both traditional and next-generation technologies to address ecological and evolutionary questions at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

Many of the projects explore genomes for signatures of selection (natural or artificial), local adaptation, patterns of partitioning genetic variation across species and populations, or use a metagenomic approach to understand complex biological systems. We also explore the potential of transcriptomics to gather gene expression data from wild populations.


The primary research focus of the Wayne Lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptation and genome evolution.  Current projects include Environmental DNA (eDNA) and California Biodiversity & Population Genetics of Deleterious Variation.

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Environmental DNA as a tool for assessing microbial diversity & ecological impacts by contaminants at The Bowtie parcel Brownfield site in Southern California

Wayne Lab Post-doc, Maura Palacious, received the the La Kretz and Stunt Ranch Combined grant. Take a look at the project summary below! Project Summary: Urban planning considers the loss of open space, biodiversity, and pollution, as well as the demand of a growing populations in cities. Vacant Brownfields are properties with the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that if remediated can be critical to urban revitalization. This study applies eDNA metabarcoding to soil samples from The Bowtie Parcel Brownfield adjacent to the L.A. River to explore biological community changes in relation to contaminants. This study will contribute to the redevelopment plan of The Bowtie Parcel, potentially generate a low-cost microbial bioremediation alternative, and incorporate a new tool for the assessment of Brownfields.

UCLA Undergraduates Barcode California’s DNA

This past summer I attended a Barcoding Educator workshop, an effort between James Madison University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), to train and expand DNA barcoding (the use of a single region of DNA to identify a species as simple as scanning a supermarket barcode) to other institutions across the nation. I chose to focus our DNA Barcoding Project at a location in our backyard, Arroyo Seco, an urban stream that flows into the L.A. River. The students were tasked to collect one insect with the use of a D-net, sweep net, or trapping them in a collection tube. We also set up a Malaise trap in the event a student was unable to collect a sample. In addition, students made observations using the iNaturalist application, an easy tool to create unique class specific projects (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/eeb-87-california-s-dna-a-field-course). In groups students also collected water quality data and sediment environmental DNA samples. To our surprise, this hidden gem harbored high levels of biodiversity which included chorus frogs, salamanders, dragonflies, wolf spiders, and even horses!

Boosting genetic diversity may save vanishing animal populations. But it may also backfire

The expanding global human footprint is dividing the world’s flora and fauna into ever-smaller, more isolated populations that could wink out because of inbreeding, disease, or environmental change. For decades, conservationists have proposed revitalizing those holdouts by bringing in new blood from larger populations. But they’ve wondered whether it really works—and how to do it without swamping the genetic identity and unique adaptations of the group at risk. Last month at Evolution 2019 here, researchers described how genomic tools are refining what is known as genetic rescue.

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Please consider supporting our research in addressing ecological and evolutionary questions.

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