Dr. Jessica Garb, Assistant Professor
My research employs empirical approaches that integrate systematic biology, molecular evolution and ecology. I am currently investigating gene families encoding proteins of special functional significance to spiders: silks and venoms. Globally, spiders comprise ~39,000 described species and the use of venom and silk proteins defines this immense invertebrate order. The direct link between these gene families and their ecological utility make them excellent models for investigating the role of genomic changes in organismal adaptation and lineage diversification. My work specifically focuses on characterizing the sequence diversity of these proteins and determining their phylogenetic distributions. This information is utilized to pinpoint the origins of genes especially critical to organismal ecology and to examine how such events relate to biological diversification at varying hierarchical levels. A component of this work also involves the development of novel molecular markers for species phylogenies using genomic resources. These interests stem from my earlier training in systematics and evolution, primarily focusing on the diversification of insular spiders.
University of Massachusetts
Department of Biological Sciences
198 Riverside Street
Lowell, MA 01844
Education and Training:
- B.S., Cornell University, Natural Resources
- M.S., University of Hawaii, Zoology
- Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, Environmental Science, Policy and Management
- Postdoctoral Researcher, Biology Department, University of California Riverside
- National Institutes of Health Kirschstein Fellow, University of Arizona
- 2013 Garb, J.E. & C.Y. Hayashi. Molecular evolution of α-latrotoxin, the exceptionally potent vertebrate neurotoxin in black widow spider venom. Molecular Biology and Evolution. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst011
- 2013 Ayoub, N.A., Garb, J.E., Kuelbs A., & C.Y. Hayashi. Ancient properties of spider silks revealed by the complete gene sequence of the prey-wrapping silk protein AcSp1. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 30(3): 589-601
- 2012 Starrett, J., Garb, J.E., Kuelbs A., Ogogua, U., & C.Y. Hayashi. Early events in the evolution of spider silk genes. PLoS ONE. 7(6): e38084
- 2010 Garb, J.E., Ayoub, N.A. & C.Y. Hayashi. Untangling spider silk evolution with spidroin terminal domains. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10:243 (full text).
- 2009 Garb, J.E. & R.G. Gillespie. Diversity despite dispersal: Colonization history and phylogeography of Hawaiian crab spiders inferred from multilocus genetic data. Molecular Ecology. 18:1746-1764.
- 2007 Garb, J.E, DiMauro, T., Lewis, R.V. & C.Y. Hayashi. Expansion and intragenic homogenization of spider silk genes since the Triassic: evidence from Mygalomorphae (tarantulas and their kin) spidroins. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 24(11): 2454–2464.
- 2007 Ayoub, N. A., Garb, J. E., Tinghitella, R., Collins, M. & C. Y. Hayashi. Blueprint for a high performance biomaterial: full length spider dragline silk genes. PLoS ONE 2(6): e514.
- 2006 Garb, J.E., DiMauro, T., Vo, V. & C. Y. Hayashi. Silk genes support the single origin of orb-webs. Science 312:1762.
- 2005 Garb, J.E. & C.Y. Hayashi. Modular evolution of egg case silk genes across orb-weaving spider superfamilies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 102(32): 11379–11384.
- 2004 Garb, J.E., Gonzalez, A. & R.G. Gillespie. The black widow spider genus Latrodectus: phylogeny, biogeography and invasion history. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31(3): 1127-1142.