Welcome to the Duff Laboratory

My students and I are involved in a number of projects using molecular genetic tools to investigate organismal and genetic biodiversity.   From taxonomic and phylogenetic approaches to studying species and populations to whole community genetic diversity to working on signaling pathways in whales our projects involve an integrative approach to research.  

Current Student Research In the Lab

Hope Ball- Integrated Bioscience PhD

How do mammals get fat and stay fat? Specifically, how do whales do it? That’s what my research is trying to find out. My name is Hope Ball and I’m a student in the Integrative Biosciences Program here at UA. To answer this “heavy” question, I’m looking at a tiny protein called leptin that’s involved in how the body regulates how much you eat and how much energy you burn. The goal is a balance between food intake and energy burn. Whales, and other obese mammals, have found a way to build large fat stores despite this balance and I’m interested in finding out how they do that. My research uses molecular techniques to look at how much protein these animals make and how that protein could be operating compared to non-obese animals as well as seeing if there are differences between sexes, time of year and age. It’s a difficult but fascinating question that could shed some light on how this metabolic system works in humans.


Lara Roketenetz - Integrated Bioscience PhD

I study the interactions of a native biocontrol agent and an invasive plant. The native weevil (Euhrychiopsis lecontei) has shown a shift in feeding preference for the exotic Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) from its coevolved host plant Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum). Lara is interested in looking for genetic differences in the weevil across its range in the United States as well as investigating whether genetic differences occur in populations of weevils that have different species of milfoil as their primary food source. Lara hopes that this information will be useful in determining the suitability of using these weevils in various lakes and ponds as an environmentally-friendly way to control an invasive weed.


Emily Frank - MS Student

Community analysis of unicellular eukaryotes and bacteria from the Barrent Sea using high throughput second generation sequencing.


Rachel Bright - BS Honors Student

Characterization of the leptin receptor isoforms in Bowhead whales using RACE and cDNA sequencing.

Principle Ongoing Projects in the Duff Lab

Leptin (OB) gene and the maintenance of blubber in cetaceans (whales)

Members of my lab in conjunction with the Londraville Lab are examing the leptin signaling pathways in cetaceans to better understand how whales such as Bowheads and Belugas maintain their large blubber stores year round. 

Community composition of unicellular eukaryotes in artic waters

In collaboration with the Lavrentyev Lab members of my lab are sequencing genes from community DNA samples from samples taken from the Barrent Sea in an effort to characterize the number and proportion of protists in ocean currents at different times in the year. 

Population genetics and molecular systematics of the milfoil weevil

As part of a larger project in collaboration with the Weeks Lab we are looking at population structure of an important biocontrol weevil using microsatelites and reassessing the classification of this weevil or several weevil species from North America using molecular systematic techniques.

Other Projects (past and present)

Molecular phylogenetic and population genetic studies of clamshrimp (Crustaceae)

Molecular systematics of hornworts (Bryophyta)

R. Joel Duff - Basic Vitae Information

Education

1995. Ph.D. – Molecular systematics and evolution. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Botany.  Dissertation: Restriction site variation and structural analysis of the chloroplast DNA of Isoetes in North America. Advisor: Dr. Edward E. Schilling.
1991. M.S. - Botany. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Botany.  Thesis: An electrophoretic study of two closely related species of Isoetes L. from the southern Appalachians. Advisor: Dr. A. Murray Evans.
1989. B.S. - Biology. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Professional experience

August 2010 – present Professor, Biology, University of Akron
August 2005 – July 2010 Associate Professor, Biology, University of Akron
August 2006 – 2008. Associate Chair, Dept. of Biology, University of Akron
August 1999 – July 2005. Assistant Professor, Biology, University of Akron.
October 1998- July 1999. Postdoctoral Research Associate. Southern Illinois University, Dept. PlantBiology. Characterization of chloroplast DNA genomes of holoparasitic plants. Laboratory of Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent.
March – September 1998. Postdoctoral Research Associate. Southern Illinois University. Molecularphysiological studies of desiccation tolerance in Tortula ruralis (Bryophyta).Laboratory of Dr. Andrew. J. Wood.
June 1995 - February 1998. Postdoctoral Research Associate. Southern Illinois University. Molecular evolutionary and systematic studies of holoparasitic plants. Laboratory of Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent.

Publications:

35. Weeks, S.C., C. Benvenuto, T. F. Sanderson, and R. Joel Duff. 2010. Sex Chromosome Evolution in the Clam Shrimp, Eulimnadia texana. Evolution. In Press
34. Liu, Q., Y. Chen, D. Copeland, H. Ball, R. J. Duff, B. Rockich, R. L. Londraville. March 2010. Expression of leptin receptor gene in developing and adult zebrafish. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 166: 346-355.
33. JC Villarreal, R.J. Duff, C. Cargill, and B. Goffinett. March 2010. Phylogenetic delineation of Nothoceros and Megaceros (Anthocerophyta: Dendrocerotaceae). The Bryologist. 113(1): 106-113.
32. Wood, A. J. and R. J. Duff. 2009 (March). The aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) gene superfamily of the moss Physcomitrella patens and the algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Osteococcus tauri. The Bryologist. 112(1): 1-11.
31. Ford, C.S, K. L. Ayres, N. Toomey, N. Haider, J. Van Alphen Stahl, L.J. Kelly, N. Wikstrom, P.M. Hollingsworth, R. J. Duff, S. B. Hoot, R. S. Cowan, M.W. Chase, M.J. Wilkinson. 2009 (Jan). Selection of candidate coding DNA barcoding regions for use on land plants. Bot. J. Linnean Soc. 159: 1-11.
30. R. Joel Duff. 2008 (Sept). Flood geology’s abominable mystery. Perspect. Sci. Christ. Faith. 60(3): 162-171.
29. Renzaglia, K. S., J. C. Villarreal A., and R. Joel Duff. 2008 (December). New insights into morphology, anatomy, and systematics of hornworts. In “Bryophyte Biology, Vol II” (Eds. Shaw and Goffinett). 2008. Cambridge MA.
28. R. Joel Duff, H. Ball, and P. J. Lavrentyev. 2008 (July). Application of combined morphological-molecular approaches to the identification of planktonic protists from environmental samples. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 55(4): 306-312.
27. Renzaglia, K. S., S. Schutte, R. J. Duff, Ligrone, J. Shaw, B. Mishler, and J. Duckett. 2007 (June). Bryophyte phylogeny: advancing the molecular and morphological frontiers. The Bryologist, 110(2): 179-213.
26. Duff, R. Joel., J. C. Villarreal, D. C. Cargill, and K. S. Renzaglia. 2007 (June). Progress and challenges toward developing a phylogeny and classification of the hornworts. The Bryologist, 110(2): 214-243.
25. Duff. R. Joel, Benvenuto, C. Branch T and S.C. Weeks. 2007 (January). DNA extraction from resting cysts of the conchostracan shrimp Eulimnadia texana (Crustacea, Banchiopoda, Spinicaudata). Journal Crustacean Biology, 27: 154-157.
24. Qiu, Yin-Long, …R. J. Duff. et al. 2006 (October). The Deepest Divergences in Land Plants Inferred from Phylogenomic Evidence. PNAS 103(42): 15511-15516.
23. Liu, B. R. J. Duff, R. L. Londraville, J.A. Marrs, and Q. Liu. 2006 (May 8 2006, on-line). Cloning and expression of cadherin-7 in the central nervous system of the embryonic zebrafish. Gene Expression Patterns.
22. Liu, Q, R. J. Duff, B. Liu, A. Wilson, S. Babb-Clendenon, J Francl, and J. Marrs. 2006 (Feb 20, on-line). Expression of cadherin10, a type II classic cadherin gene, in the nervous system of the embryonic zebrafish. Gene Expression Patterns.
21. R. Joel Duff. 2006 (January on-line and print). Divergent RNA editing frequencies in hornwort mitochondrial nad5 sequences. Gene 366: 285-291.
20. R. Joel Duff and Francisco Moore. 2005 (October on-line, November print). Pervasive RNA Editing Inferred among Hornwort rbcL transcripts except Leiosporoceros. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 61: 571-578.
19. D. Christine Cargill, Karen S. Renzaglia, Juan Carlos Villarreal and R. Joel Duff. 2005 (February). Generic Concepts within Hornworts (Phylum Anthocerotophyta). Australian Systematic Botany. 18:1-10
18. Duff, R. Joel, C. Cargill, J. C. Villarreal and K. S. Renzaglia. 2004 (September). Phylogenetic relationships of the hornworts based on rbcL sequence data: novel relationships and new insights. Monographs of the Annals Missouri Botanical Garden. 98: 41-58.
17. Duff, R. Joel, W. R. Hoeh, D. Cook, and S. W. Weeks. 2004 (Summer). Isolation and characterization of thirteen polymorphic loci from the clam shrimp Eulimnadia texana (Crustacea: Spinicaudata). Molecular Ecology Notes. 4: 397-399.
16. Weeks, S. C. and R. J. Duff. 2002. A genetic comparison of two species of clam shrimp in the genus Eulimnadia: An electrophoretic approach. Hydrobiologia. 486: 295-302.
15. Nickrent, D. L, Parkinson, Palmer, and R. J. Duff. 2000. Multigene phylogeny of plants: hornworts are basal and mosses are sister to liverworts. Molecular Biology Evolution. 17(12):1885-1895.
14. Wood, A. J., R. J. Duff, and M. J. Oliver. 2000. The translational apparatus of Tortula ruralis: polysomal retention of transcripts encoding the ribosomal proteins RPS14, RPS16, and RPL23 in desiccated and rehydrated gametophytes. Journal Experimental Botany. 51: 1-8. (October 2000)
13. Duff, R. Joel and E. E. Schilling 2000. The chloroplast structure and consensus gene order of Isoetes (Isoetaceae) is similar to the liverwort Marchantia. American Fern Journal 90:51-59.
12. Renzaglia, Karen, R. J. Duff, D. L. Nickrent, and D. Garabary. 2000. Vegetative and reproductive innovations of early land plants: implications for a unified phylogeny. Transactions of the Royal Society, London 355:769-793.
11. Wood, A. J., R. J. Duff, Q. Zeng, and M. J. Oliver. 2000. Molecular architecture of Bryophyte genes: putative polyadenylation signals in cDNA 3’-ends of the desiccation-tolerant moss Tortula ruralis. The Bryologist 103:44-51.
10. Duff, R. Joel, M. J. Oliver, and A. J. Wood. 1999. Isolation and characterization of a Bryophyte (Tortula ruralis) cDNA encoding ribosomal protein S3a. Bryologist 102: 418-425
9. Duff, R. Joel and D. L. Nickrent. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships of land plants using mitochondrial small-subunit rDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 86: 372-386.
8. Gray, L. E., L. Achenbach, R. J. Duff, and D. Lightfoot. 1999. Pathogenicity of Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines in isolates on soybean and greenbean plants. Plant Phytopathology 147: 281-284.
7. Wood, Andrew, R. J. Duff, and M. J. Oliver. 1999. Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from desiccated Tortula ruralis identify a large number of novel plant genes. Plant Cell Physiology 40(4): 361-368.
6. Nickrent, D. L., R. J. Duff, A. E. Colwell, A. D. Wolfe, N. D. Young, K. E. Steiner, and C. W. dePamphilis. 1998. Molecular Phylogenetic and Evolutionary Studies of Parasitic Plants. Pp. 211-241 (Chapter 8) In: Molecular Systematics of Plants II. DNA Sequencing. D. Soltis, P. Soltis, J. Doyle (eds.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA.
5. Duff, R. Joel., and D. L. Nickrent. 1997. Characterization of mitochondrial small-subunit ribosomal RNAs from holoparastic plants. Journal Molecular Evolution 45: 531-539.
4. Nickrent, D. L., R. J. Duff, and D. M. Konings. 1997. Structural analysis of plastid-derived 16S rRNAs in holoparasitic angiosperms. Plant Molecular Biology 34: 731-743.
3. Nickrent, D. L., Y. Ouyang, R. J. Duff, and C. W. dePamphilis. 1997. Do nonasterid holoparasitic flowering plants have plastid genomes? Plant Molecular Biology 34: 717-729.
2. Nickrent, D. L, and R. J. Duff. 1996. Molecular studies of parasitic plants using ribosomal RNA. In: Advances in Parasitic Plant Research . Edited by M. T. Moreno , J. I., Cubero, D. Berner, L. J. Musselman, C. Parker. Cordoba, Spain: Junta de Andalucia, Direccion General de Inverstigacion Agraria;1996: 28-52.
1. Duff, R. Joel. and A. M. Evans. 1992. Allozyme electrophoresis of two closely related taxa of Isoetes in the southern Appalachians. American Fern Journal 82: 129-141.