Jennifer Gleason

Associate Professor
Primary office:
6006 Haworth Hall


Dr. Gleason's research focuses on molecular evolution, behavioral genetics, and the evolution of courtship song in Drosophila.

Sexual isolation- the reluctance of males and females of different species to mate with each other- can be a major cause of speciation in many animals. How many genes must change to produce sexual isolation? Some argue that species differences must involve change across many genes, perhaps hundreds, but the recent application of molecular techniques for gene mapping is suggesting, surprisingly, that single genes can play a large role in many ecologically important traits.

Identification of genes affecting behavior is difficult; behavioral traits can be time consuming to measure and are prone to environmental influences. Although researchers have found mutations in single genes that affect behavior, it is not clear whether or not these genes are involve in variation within species or in species differences. In addition, most behaviors are quantitative traits and, therefore, must be influenced by multiple genes. For these reasons, I am using quantitative genetics to examine natural variation within and between species.

Drosophila is an ideal model system for behavioral genetic analysis because the genetics of the organism are so well known and because it has reliably performed, quantifiable behaviors. My research uses two species that do not normally mate with each other. These species differ in female cuticular hydrocarbons (detected by the males) and male courtship songs (produced by wing vibrations and heard by females). Through quantitative trait loci analysis on backcross individuals, we can measure the cosegregation of these traits with molecular markers. Preliminary results indicate that songs are polygenic, but surprisingly are influenced by genes of major effect that are probably not those identified in single gene mutation analyses. Cuticular hydrocarbon composition is affected by one major locus, previously implicated, but other loci play a role in addition.

Selected Publications

  • Koseva, B.S., Hackett, J.L., Zhou, Y., Harris, B.R., Kelly, J.K., Greenfield, M.D., Gleason, J.M., and Macdonald, S.J. 2019.  Quantitative genetic mapping and genome assembly in the lesser wax moth Achroia grisella. Genes, Genomes, Genetics 9: 2349–2361. doi:10.1534/g3.119.400090.
  • Gleason, J.M., Roy, P.R., Everman, E.R., Gleason, T.C., and Morgan, T.J. 2019. Phenology of Drosophila species across a temperate growing season and implications for behavior. PLoS ONE 14: e0216601. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0216601.
  • Roy, P. R. and Gleason, J. M.  2019. Assessing the use of wing ornamentation and visual display in female choice sexual selection.  Behavioural Processes 158: 89-96.
  • Everman, E.R., Dizeit, J.L., Hunter, F. K., Gleason, J. M., and Morgan, T. J.. 2018. Costs of cold acclimation on survival and reproductive behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.  PLoS ONE 13: e0197822.
  • Colyott K, Odu C, and Gleason, J. M. 2016.  Dissection of signalling modalities and courtship timing reveals a novel signal in Drosophila saltans courtship. Animal Behaviour 120: 93–101.
  • Gleason, J. M., Zhou Y, Hackett J. L., Harris, B. R., and Greenfield, M. D. 2016.  Development of a genomic resource and quantitative trait loci mapping of male calling traits in the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147014.
  • Greenfield, M. D., R. G. Danka, J. M. Gleason, B. R. Harris, and Y. Zhou. 2012. "Genotype x environment interaction, environmental heterogeneity, and the lek paradox" Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 25. 601-613.
  • Gleason, J. M., A. A. Pierce, A. L. Vezeau, and S. F. Goodman. 2012. "Different sensory modalities are required for successful courtship in two species of the Drosophila willistoni group" Animal Behaviour. 83. 217-227.
  • Gleason, J. M., R. A. James, C. Wicker-Thomas, and M. G. Ritchie. 2009. "Identification of quantitative trait loci function through analysis of multiple cuticular hydrocarbons differing between Drosophila simulans and D. sechellia females" Heredity. 103. 416-424.
  • Zhou, Y., H. K. Kuster, J. S. Pettis, R. G. Danka, J. M. Gleason, and M. D. Greenfield. 2008. "Reaction norm variants for male calling song in natural populations of Achroia grisella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae): Towards a resolution of the lek paradox" Evolution. 62(1317-1334).
  • Gleason, J. M., J. Jallon, J. Rouault, and M. G. Ritchie. 2005. "Quantitative trait loci for a difference in cuticular hydrocarbons between Drosophila simulans and D. sechellia associated with sexual isolation" Genetics. 171. 1789-1798.
  • Gleason, J. M.. 2005. "Mutations and natural genetic variation in the courtship song of Drosophila" Behavior Genetics. 35. 265-277.
  • Gleason, J. M. and M. G. Ritchie. 2004. "Do quantitative trait loci for a courtship song difference between Drosophila simulans and D. sechellia coincide with candidate genes and intraspecific QTLs?" Genetics. 166. 1303-1311.
  • Gleason, J. M., K. A. Cropp, and R. S. Dewoody. 2004. "DNA preparations from fly wings for molecular marker assisted crosses" Drosophila Information Service. 87. 107-108.
  • Powell, J. R., E. Sezzi, E. N. Moriyama, J. M. Gleason, and A. Caccone. 2003. "Analysis of a shift in codon usage in Drosophila" Journal of Molecular Evolution. 57. S214-S225.
  • Gleason, J. M., S. V. Nuzhdin, and M. G. Ritchie. 2002. "Quantitative trait loci affecting a courtship signal in Drosophila melanogaster" Heredity. 89. 1-6.
  • Ritchie, M. G., D. Kidd, and J. M. Gleason. 2001. "mtDNA variation and GIS analysis confirm a secondary origin of geographic variation in the bushcricket Ephippiger ephippiger (Orthoptera: Tettigonioidea), and resurrect two subspecies" Molecular Ecology. 10. 603-611.

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