Alex Keene, Ph.D.

2021- Biology Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, United States 
Evolution, genetics, biology, behavior
"Alex Keene"

Neural regulation of sleep, appetite, and energy homeostasis is critical to an animal’s survival and under stringent evolutionary pressure. Flies, like mammals, suppress sleep when starved, providing a system to interrogate interactions between sleep and metabolism. We have performed a large genetic screens to identify novel regulators of sleep-metabolism interactions, and are currently investigating the genes and neural circuits that integrate these processes. As a complementary approach, we have been working to establish Mexican cavefish as a model for the evolution of sleep in a nutrient-poor environment. We have generated comparative brain atlases and whole-brain functional imaging approaches that have identified a reorganization of the hypothalamus and increased slow wave sleep intensity in cavefish. Together this system has potential to identify conserved genetic, physiological, and anatomical mechanisms associated with variable sleep

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Scott Waddell grad student 2002-2006 UMASS Medical School
Justin Blau post-doc 2007-2011 NYU (Chemistry Tree)


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Kaya Harper grad student 2023- Texas A & M (Evolution Tree)


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Suzanne McGaugh collaborator UMN (Evolution Tree)
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Warren WC, Rice ES, Maggs X, et al. (2023) Astyanax mexicanus surface and cavefish chromosome-scale assemblies for trait variation discovery. Biorxiv : the Preprint Server For Biology
Moran RL, Richards EJ, Ornelas-García CP, et al. (2023) Selection-driven trait loss in independently evolved cavefish populations. Nature Communications. 14: 2557
Perry A, McGaugh SE, Keene AC, et al. (2022) CaveCrawler: An interactive analysis suite for cavefish bioinformatics. G3 (Bethesda, Md.)
Moran RL, Jaggard JB, Roback EY, et al. (2022) Hybridization underlies localized trait evolution in cavefish. Iscience. 25: 103778
O'Gorman M, Thakur S, Imrie G, et al. (2021) Pleiotropic function of the oca2 gene underlies the evolution of sleep loss and albinism in cavefish. Current Biology : Cb
Mack KL, Jaggard JB, Persons JL, et al. (2021) Repeated evolution of circadian clock dysregulation in cavefish populations. Plos Genetics. 17: e1009642
Warren WC, Boggs TE, Borowsky R, et al. (2021) A chromosome-level genome of Astyanax mexicanus surface fish for comparing population-specific genetic differences contributing to trait evolution. Nature Communications. 12: 1447
McGaugh SE, Kowalko JE, Duboué E, et al. (2020) Dark world rises: The emergence of cavefish as a model for the study of evolution, development, behavior, and disease. Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
McGaugh SE, Passow CN, Jaggard JB, et al. (2020) Unique transcriptional signatures of sleep loss across independently evolved cavefish populations. Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Loomis C, Peuß R, Jaggard JB, et al. (2019) An Adult Brain Atlas Reveals Broad Neuroanatomical Changes in Independently Evolved Populations of Mexican Cavefish. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 13: 88
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