I have developed a modified fluctuation assay during my postdoc (Jiang et al 2021. eLife, Jiang et al 2022. Bioprotocol) which can assay both mutation rate and spectra using CAN1 as the reporter gene across different haploid strain backgrounds. Moving forward, I am developing high-throughput genomic technologies with long-read sequencing to profile mutations more efficiently. This can be combined with strain barcoding to obtain mutation spectra from a pooled assay, saving time and costs. This technology can be applied to further explore mutation spectra under different environmental conditions, revealing genotype by environment interactions. This will lead to a more comprehensive view of mutation variation among natural isolates.
Currently, I am exploring an hypothesis from natural polymorphism that some French dairy strains could have inherited mutator allele(s) via gene flow from African beer strains and I am assaying de novo mutations from these groups to test this hypothesis. I will continue carrying out research which combines both data analysis and experimental validation to figure out the natural history of mutator alleles.
Other projects related to yeast mutation spectra I am working on include exploring mutation rate and spectra changes related to aging. This work is ongoing and in collaboration with Dr. Joe Armstrong in Maitreya Dunham’s lab using magnetic labeled mother cells with chemostat.