Enoch Ng'oma's Research
Evolution of Resource Allocation Patterns
Presently, I am investigating the evolution of resource allocation patterns in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster in response to dietary quality. This work is conducted on a large set of recombinant inbred lines (DSPR) using experimental selection (on multiple dietary conditions) in the context of ‘evolve-and-resequence’ approaches. The aim is to track changes in genomic, gene expression and physiological changes over the selection period and relate these to higher-level traits including fecundity and lifespan. Results from this project are expected to shed light on the nature of environmental changes that select for evolution of known allocation strategies such as storage disorders and nutrient limitation.
Aging in Killifish
During my graduate studies, I contributed to the knowledge base required to establish a new fish model, Nothobranchius furzeri, the known shortest-living vertebrate that has gained traction in aging research. I used quantitative genetic and gene expression methods to study the genetic bases of age-associated metabolic traits including (hepatic) apoptosis and lipofuscin accumulation, as well as body pigmentation phenotypes. This work was done in a panel of interspecific hybrids of phylogenetically close species, and yielded significant insights into the aging phenotype of this annual killifish.
Molecular ecology and evolution of east African killifish
Side projects for my graduate studies focused on spatial morphological and molecular variation in a greater number of Nothobranchius sp including N. furzeri in Mozambique and Malawi. One line of this work culminated in a new species description for Malawi based on morphology and molecular data putting to rest a long-standing aspect of evolutionary relationships. A second line investigated color polymorphisms and parallel evolution of senescence in response to extrinsic mortality in Mozambique. These data contribute to confirming that the very short lifespan and the aging phenotype in N. furzeri is natural, and not a mere artifact of laboratory domestication.
Genetic diversity in the African pencil cedar
The southern-most limit of Juniperus procera which ranges from Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula across east African mountain ranges, is a 20-hectare climax forest located in a protected area in northern Malawi but still threatened with logging and bushfires. This small population is isolated from the nearest population in Mbeya, Tanzania by about 500 km. This project aimed at comparing the genetic diversity of this small population with populations in optimal environments in Kenya and Ethiopia to inform conservation policy in Malawi.