Bat species are numerous and diverse, and are found in nearly every corner of the globe. Therefore, they serve as a valuable system to study the evolution of mammalian traits. Dr. Alexa Sadier collected field and museum samples from over 50 species of bats to ask how color vision evolved in this unique group of mammals. By looking at gene expression at multiple levels – DNA, RNA, and protein – Sadier determined that different bat species have color vision capabilities adapted to their diets, and UV vision has been lost independently in multiple species through regulation of all levels of gene expression. By “catching” evolution in action, Sadier’s research has revealed important insights into the mechanisms of evolution through trait loss.
Alexa Sadier received her PhD in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology at the Institute of Functional Genomics in Lyon, France. She performed postdoctoral research with Karen Sears at UCLA. Sadier’s research focuses on the genomic, developmental, and ecological basis of the evolutionary diversification of sensory systems and teeth in bats. alexasadier.com Continue Reading