Jason Macrander
Masters Student - University of Nebraska Lincoln
2007 B.S. Biological Sciences - UNL
2007 B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife - UNL
email: Jason507 'AT' gmail.com
Homepage: http://bioinfolab.unl.edu/~jmacrander

I have broad interests where bioinformatics meets the "wet-lab" (what some call a PCR bench). Particularly I am interested in evolutionary processes that lead to biodiversity we see in today’s aquatic environments. I am currently Co-Advised by Dr Etsuko Moriyama and Dr. Guillermo Orti.

Although my foundation has been built upon molecular techniques acquired in the lab I have found that incorporating bioinformatics into my analyses is becoming quite useful. Thanks to the development of high-throughput sequencing the fields of phylogenetics and population genetics are rapidly shifting to incorporate genomics. The hindrance in working with large data sets for evolutionary studies is the ability to manipulate, organize, and retrieve the data. By utilizing bioinformatic methods I am able to pick up where the lab bench leaves off taking advantage of the data which is available online and manipulating my own data which I have obtained in the lab. Although my skills in this area are in their infancy I hope to in the near future further explore the possibilities of incorporating simulation data and utilizing scripts to further enhance my other areas of interest below.

Phylogenomics and Systematics:
The combination of molecular sequence data, morphological characteristics and geological events assist in our understanding of processes which have lead to speciation and essentially the diverse groups we see in existence today. An overall goal for those who study evolutionary histories is to reconstruct the tree of all life, however, as researchers are now resolving evolutionary relationships of different groups it is becoming apparent that there are always some branches that are not easily resolved. One area on the tree of life I am interested in is testing the evolutionary hypotheses regarding basal of ray-finned fishes (actinopterygiian) relationships. There have been conflicting hypothesis regarding relationships among these groups which has been based on all types of different data. These various lineages constitute a group of fishes that were once dominant species (Bichir, Sturgeon, Paddlefish, Bowfin, and Gar) and are now only remnants representing ancestors for all ray-finned fishes we see today. I am currently integrating EST’s and high-throughput sequencing to identify orthologous loci for phylogenomic analysis among these basal lineages of ray-finned fishes as an alternative method in resolving these relationships.

Phylogeography and Population genetics:
There are varying levels one can perceive the evolutionary process occurring, and within and between populations is no doubt an interest of mine. Aquatic environments for me are the most interesting areas to study phylogeography and population genetics as the localities in which your species of interest may inhabit is limited to specifically these areas. Because of my interest in this area I have developed ongoing collaborative relationships for various projects:

Cichla – Stuart Willis and Dr. Tomas Hrbek
Peacock bass, the genus Cichla, are an important part of the fish fauna in tropical South America. We are interested in what geologic processes which may lead to the biodiversity in the river basins throughout tropical South America. We are interested in the population structure of one species in particular Cichla monoculus. The wide spread distribution of Cichla lends itself to investigate speciation events which have lead to the diversity we see in the Amazon and surrounding river basins. We have developed microsatellites which successfully amplify across several species within the genus Cichla and are now characterizing geneflow using a population genetics approach with Cichla monoculus.

The plains topminnow Fundulus sciadicus Dr. Mike Bessert and Dr. Chenhong Li
The plains topminnow Fundulus sciadicus is a freshwater killifish endemic to the Great Plains of North America. Rising concerns for future viability of this species have prompted recent changes in its conservation status. With the help of local government agencies we hope to characterize this species genetic diversity throughout their range to ensure effective stocking and conservation methods are taking place for the health of the species as a whole. Soon we will be combining molecular sequence data with variable microsatellite loci to determine where disjunct populations occur.


K. R. O'brien, J. Macrander , J. A. Baker. 2009. The effects of egg size and food supply on the survival growth and condition of threspine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) fry.(in prep)

C. Li, M. L. Bessert, J. Macrander , G. Orti. 2009. Low variation but strong population structure in mitochondrial control region of plains topminnow, Fundulus sciadicus. Journal of Fish Biology 74:1037 - 1048.

C. Li, M. L. Bessert, J. Macrander , G. Orti. 2007. Microsatellite loci for hte plains topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus, Fundulidae). Molecular Ecology Notes, 7: 691 - 693.


Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Symposium, Lincoln NE (2009) Integrating EST's and High-Throughput sequencing to Identify Orthologous Loci for Phylogenomic Analysis: A Case Study among Basal Ray-Finned Fishes (Actinopterygii)
*Won Best Poster

Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, Lincoln NE (2009) Construction and Screening of Microsatellite Library for Five Species of Amazon Cichla

Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, St. Louis MO (2007) Phylogeography and Conservation Genetics of the Plains Topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus) in Nebraska and Missouri

Undergraduate Research Conference, Universtiy of Nebraska - Lincoln (2006) Population Dynaimcs of the Plians Topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus)

Teaching Experience

2009 Spring Vertebrate Zoology Laboratory (BIOS 386L) UNL

2008 Introduction to Biology (BIOS 101L) UNL

2005 Biology of Microorganisms (BIOS 111L) UNL

Favorite Links

Dr. Etsuko Moriyama Bioinformatics Lab

Dr. Guillermo Orti Fish Phylogenetics Lab

University of Nebraska-Lincoln


This is my Senior Picture from High School (2002) Since then I
have lost some hair...and gained some pounds. But I still love to
go SCUBA diving as much as possible.