Justin P. Blumenstiel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, The University of Kansas-Lawrence

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2005
Postdoctoral, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 2005-2008

Genome Evolution, Transposable Elements, RNA silencing, Epigenetics, and Molecular Evolution

My research is focused on understanding how genetic conflict shapes the evolution of systems of inheritance. Meiosis and sexual reproduction are prevalent across the tree of life, but they can be exploited by genetic parasites in ways that harm the host. I am particularly interested in understanding how this genetic conflict shapes the evolution of genetic and epigenetic systems. We are especially interested in answers to the following questions: How do RNA silencing mechanisms evolve in the face of varying transposable element content across species? How does the persistence of genetic conflict shape mechanisms of epigenetic gene control by small RNAs?  What are the mechanisms underlying changes in the rate of recombination? Are these changes driven by natural selection or drift? How has conflict shaped the machinery of meiosis? To answer these questions, we work with different species within the Drosophila genus, including Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila virilis. The lab uses a wide variety of approaches including cytogenetics, bioinformatics, molecular genetics and population genetics. We are especially interested in the evolutionary dynamics of transposable element control and gene regulation by piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). Overall, we hope to integrate the experimental approach within a broader theoretical framework.

Selected Publications

Miller DE, Takeo S, Nandanan K, Paulson A, Gogol MM, Noll AC, Perera AG, Walton KN, Gilliland .D, Li H, Staehling KK, Blumenstiel JP and Hawley RS. (2012) A whole-chromosome analysis of meiotic recombination in Drosophila melanogaster. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 2(2):249-60.

Castillo DM, Mell JC, Box KS and Blumenstiel JP. (2011) Molecular evolution under increasing transposable element burden in Drosophila: A speed limit on the evolutionary arms race. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 14;11:258.

Blumenstiel JP. (2011) Evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements in a small RNA world. Trends in Genetics. 27(1):23-31.

Blumenstiel JP. (2011) Telomeres: A new means to an end. Current Biology. 21(1):R32-R3. 

Blumenstiel JP, Noll AC, Griffiths JA, Perera AG, Walton KN, Gilliland WD, Hawley RS and Staehling-Hampton K. (2009)Identification of EMS-Induced mutations in Drosophila melanogaster by Whole-Genome Sequencing. Genetics. 182:25-32.

Blumenstiel JP, Fu R, Theurkauf WD and Hawley RS. (2008) Components of the RNAi machinery that mediate long distance chromosome interactions are dispensable for meiotic and mitotic pairing. Genetics. 180:1355-1365.

Jeffress JK, Page SL, Royer SK, Belden ED, Blumenstiel JP, Anderson LK and Hawley RS. (2007) The formation of the central element of the synaptonemal complex may occur by multiple mechanisms: the roles of the N- and C-terminal domains of the Drosophila C(3)G protein in mediating synapsis and recombination. Genetics. 177(4):2445-56.

Blumenstiel JP. (2007) Sperm competition can drive a male-biased mutation rate. J. Theor. Biol. 249(3):624-32.

Blumenstiel JP and Hartl DL. (2005) Evidence for maternally transmitted small interfering RNA in the repression of transposition in Drosophila virilis. PNAS. 102(44):15965-70.

Last modified: Jun 29, 2017


Justin P. Blumenstiel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor