Justin Blumenstiel

Associate Professor
Primary office:
7026 Haworth Hall


Dr. Blumenstiel's research is focused on understanding how both genetic and epigenetic systems evolve.

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 these systems. Some of the questions I am looking to answer: How and why do males and females differ in their efforts to ameliorate genetic conflict? 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, I 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. Overall, I hope to integrate the experimental approach within a broader theoretical framework.

Selected Publications

  • Hemmer, L.W., Dias, G.B., Smith, B., Van Vaerenberghe, K., Howard, A., Bergman, C.M. and Blumenstiel, J.P. 2020. Hybrid dysgenesis results in clusters of mitotic recombination and loss-of-heterozygosity but leaves meiotic recombination unaltered. Mobile DNA 11: 10.
  • Erwin, A.A. and Blumenstiel, J.P. 2019. Aging in the Drosophila ovary: contrasting changes in the expression of the piRNA machinery and mitochondria but no global release of transposable elements. BMC Genomics 20(1): 305.
  • Blumenstiel, J.P. 2019. Birth, School, Work, Death and Resurrection: The life stages and dynamics of transposable element proliferation. Genes 10(5): 336.
  • Meiklejohn, D. D. , and Blumenstiel, J. P. 2018.  Invasion of the P elements: Tolerance is not futile. PLoS Biology. 16(10): e3000036.
  • Funikov, S.Y, Kukikova, D.A., Krasnove, G.S., Rezvykh, A.P., Chuvakova, L.N., Shostak, N.G., Zelentsova, E.Z., Blumenstiel, J.P. and Evgen'ev, M.B. 2018. Spontaneous gain of susceptibility suggests a novel mechanism of resistance to hybrid dysgenesis. PLoS Genetics 14(5): e1007400.
  • Groth, S.B. and J. P. Blumenstiel. 2017. Horizontal transfer can drive a greater transposable element load in large populations. The Journal of heredity 108(1): 36-44. doi:10.1093/jhered/esw050 ISSN: 0022-1503 PMID: 27558983.
  • Hemmer, L. W. and J. P. Blumenstiel.  2016. Holding it together: rapid evolution and positive selection in the synaptonemal complex of Drosophila.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 16: 91. Doi: 10.1186/s12862-016-0670-8.
  • Miller, D.E., C. B. Smith, N. Yeganeh Kazemi, A. J. Cockrell, A. V. Arvanitakis, J. P. Blumenstiel, S. L. Jaspersen, R. S. Hawley. 2016. Whole-Genome Analysis of Individual Meiotic Events in Drosophila melanogaster Reveals that Noncrossover Gene Conversions are Insensitive to Interference and the Centromere Effect. Genetics 203(3). doi: 10.1534/genetics.115.186486.
  • Erwin, A., M. Galdos, C. Harrison, M. Wickersheim, K. Marr, J. Colicchio, and J. P. Blumenstiel. 2015. piRNAs are associated with diverse transgenerational effects on gene and transposon expression in a hybrid dysgenic syndrome of D. virilis. PLoS Genetics.
  • Collins, K.A., Unruh, J.R., Slaughter, B.D., Yu, Z., Lake, C.M., Nielsen, R.J., Box, K.S., Miller, D.E., Blumenstiel, J.P., Perera, A.G., Malanowski, K.E. and Hawley, R.S. 2014. Corolla is a novel protein that contributes to the architecture of the synaptonemal complex of Drosophila. Genetics.
  • Blumenstiel, J.P. 2014. Whole genome sequencing in Drosophila virilis identifies Polyphemus, a recently activated Tc-1 like transposon with a possible role in hybrid dysgenesis. Mobile DNA. 5(1):6.
  • Blumenstiel, J.P, Chen, X.*, He, M., and Bergman, C.M. 2014. An age-of-allele test of neutrality for transposable element insertions. Genetics. 196(2):523–38.
  • Wickersheim, M. and Blumenstiel, J.P. 2013. Terminator oligo blocking efficiently eliminates ribosomal RNA from small RNA sequencing reactions in Drosophila. BioTechniques. 55(5):269–72.
  • Miller, D. E., S. Takeo, K. Nandanan, A. Paulson, M. M. Gogol, A. C. Noll, K. N. Walton, W. D. Gilliland, H. Li, K. Staehling-Hampton, J. P. Blumenstiel, and R. S. Hawley. 2012. "A whole chromosome analysis of recombination and gene conversion in Drosophila melanogaster" G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 2(2). 249-260.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P.. 2011. "Telomeres: A new means to an end" Current Biology. 21(1). R32-R33.
  • Castillo, D., J. C. Mell, K. S. Box, and J. P. Blumenstiel. 2011. "Molecular evolution under increasing transposable element burden in Drosophila: A speed limit on the evolutionary arms race" BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11(258). 1-16.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P.. 2011. "Evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements in a small RNA world" Trends in Genetics. 27(1). 23-31.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P., A. C. Noll, J. A. Griffiths, A. G. Perera, K. N. Walton, W. D. Gilliland, R. S. Hawley, and K. Staehling-Hampton. 2009. "Identification of EMS-induced mutation in Drosophila melanogaster by whole genome sequencing" Genetics. 182(1). 25-32.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P., R. Fu, W. E. Theurkauf, and R. S. Hawley. 2008. "Components of the RNAi machinery that mediate long-distance chromosomal associations are dispensable for meiotic and early somatic homolog pairing in Drosophila melanogaster" Genetics. 180(3). 1355-65.
  • Jeffress, J. K., S. L. Page, S. K. Royer, J. P. Blumenstiel, E. D. Belden, L. K. Anderson, and R. S. Hawley. 2007. "The formation of the central element of the synaptonemal complex may occur by multiple mechanisms: The roles of N- and C- terminal domains of the Drosophila C(3)G protein in mediating synapsis and recombination" Genetics. 177(4). 2445-56.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P.. 2007. "Sperm competition can drive a male-biased mutation rate" The Journal of Theoretical Biology. 249(3). 624-32.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P. and D. L. Hartl. 2005. "Evidence for maternally transmitted siRNA in the repression of transposition in Drosophila virilis" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.. 102. 15965 - 13283.
  • Neafsey, D. E., J. P. Blumenstiel, and D. L. Hartl. 2004. "Different regulatory mechanisms underlie similar transposable element profiles in pufferfish and fruitflies" Mol. Biol. Evol.. 21(12). 2310 - 2318.
  • Blumenstiel, J. P., D. L. Hartl, and E. R. Lozovsky. 2002. "Patterns of insertion and deletion in contrasting chromatin domains" Mol. Biol. Evol.. 19(12). 2211 - 2225.
  • Jordan, B. M., A. Charest, J. F. Dowd, J. P. Blumenstiel, R. Yeh, A. Osman, D. E. Housman, and J. E. Landers. 2001. "Complexity reduction for genome-wide SNP analysis" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.. 99. 2942 - 2947.
  • Kawasaki, H., G. M. Springett, S. Toki, J. J. Canales, P. Harlan, J. P. Blumenstiel, E. C. Chen, I. A. Bany, N. Mockizuki, A. Asbacher, M. Matsuda, D. E. Housman, and A. M. Graybiel. 1998. "A rap guanine nucleotide exchange factor enriched highly in the basal ganglia" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.. 95. 13278 - 13283.

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