ColeB Stress-induced evolution (→SIE) of fish and marine invertebrates

We investigate the effects of stress-induced genomic variation on molecular phenotypes (proteomes) and their consequences for evolution. Effects of osmotic stress on aquatic organisms and their cells are of particular interest. To dissect and understand SIE mechanisms we use biological mass spectrometry, targeted proteomics (Skyline and PanoramaWeb), integrative systems/ network modeling, imaging, and synthetic biology approaches. Key questions of interest are: 

What is the role of stress-induced evolution (SIE) for biodiversity? 
What are the underlying molecular mechanisms of SIE? 
How do cells and species evolve in stressful environments? 
People · Publications · Positions · Proteomics repository
Current Lab Members
dkueltz2022Dietmar Kültz, Professor of Physiological Genomics (PI)Bryce Parker, Lab. AssistantMeranda Corona, PhD student, GGEElizabeth Mojica, PhD student, GGE
Dawn Wang, Postdoc/Visiting FacultyJens Hamar, PhD student, ABGValerie Weizhen Dong, PhD student, ABG  
Undergraduate Interns: Katherine Huang, Mandy Lin, Brenda Luu, Ethan Perah, Kathleen Petcu, Selina Zhang, Jina Kim, Shea Hill, Isabel Enriquez
pATM BML1The concept of SIE is based on the realization that macromolecular damage is the common denominator of cellular stress (Kültz, 2005). SIE is also known as stress-induced evolutionary innovation (Wagner et al., 2019). It represents an exciting, recently discovered mechanism of evolution, which explains biological phenomena that reach beyond the theoretical framework of the Modern synthesis of Neo-Darwinism (Heng, 2019Noble, 2021).
tilapia Osmosensing and stress-induced evolution of euryhaline cichlids. Tilapia are African cichlids that represent a classical model for evolutionary biology. They have radiated into many different ecological niches forming almost 2000 species within a relatively short time. We study several tilapia species that have evolved extreme salinity and pH tolerance and compare them to congeners that have much lower tolerances. The emphasis is on discovering, understanding, and manipulating mechanisms of osmosensing that control gene expression patterns, proteome dynamics, and organismal phenotypes in changing environmental contexts. Salinity, pH, and temperature are key environmental parameters that impose significant stress on aquatic organisms due to anthropogenic acceleration of climate change. Therefore, our research helps in understanding and predicting consequences of climate change on fish populations and species diversity. By focusing on stress-induced evolution, we aim to better understand the time frame in which evolution can occur and whether the rate of evolution differs in eury- vs. steno-topic species. After carps, tilapias are the second most important group of aquaculture fish worldwide. Many tilapias are highly environmentally stress tolerant with the exception of cold tolerance. We are interested in how tilapia cold and heat tolerance are genetically determined and how these traits interact with other traits that are important for aquaculture (growth, salinity tolerance, etc.).
tunicates Stress-induced evolution of botryllid tunicates. Colonial tunicates including Botryllus schlosseri and Botrylloides spp. are capable of rapid cell division, whole body regeneration, and high tolerance of diverse environmental conditions. Their high stress tolerance and rapid proliferation makes them invasive species in many parts of the world, including California. Our research on tunicates aims to reveal basic mechanisms of stress-induced evolution (SIE) and mechanisms that constrain SIE and somatic cell immortalization. Unlike for vertebrates (including humans) and terrestrial invertebrates (insects, etc.), immortalization of marine invertebrate cells and generation of corresponding cell lines has not been achieved. Using DIA quantitative proteomics (SWATH-MS) we are studying the biochemical networks that are altered in botryllid tunicates when they are taken from an in situ tissue context into primary culture. Moreover, we utilize stress to generate genetic variation in primary tunicate cell cultures and accelerate evolution to increase the likelihood of immortalization. This research can be leveraged to design conceptually novel strategies for counteracting tumorigenesis to protect people from proliferative diseases such as cancer. Moreover, generation of marine invertebrate cell lines and understanding how environmental stress governs their proliferation and differentiation supports the development of cell-based seafood.  
Photos by Kültz Laboratory - ask for permission to reproduce


Aquaculture exemplifies the ongoing global struggle to strike a sustainable balance between the conflicting needs of a rapidly increasing world population, human health, ecosystem health, the welfare of wild and domesticated animals, and the economic principles of globalized economies. A Primer of Ecological Aquaculture introduces students to the basic concepts, opportunities, and challenges of aquaculture with an emphasis on ecological considerations. It provides a critical assessment of current aquaculture practices from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective and from the standpoint of how best to align the two major (and often conflicting) goals of future aquaculture development: minimizing reliance on ecosystem services whilst maximizing productivity.

Monica Urias joins the lab as a grad student.16-Sep-2023
Lizzy gives exit seminar and graduates as a PhD - Congrats Dr. Mojica!05-Jun-2023
Congrats to Valerie on receiving the 2023 Gary P. Moberg Memorial Award.30-May-2023
Anna Lee wins UCD College of Biological Sciences Distinguished Scholar Award - Congratulations!29-Apr-2023
Tracy, Anna, Jina, Harris, Sophie, Kathleen, Shea and Selina present posters at UCD URC - Great job!28-Apr-2023
Thanks to All who attended our Lab potluck BBQ after the Undergraduate Research Conference!28-Apr-2023
New NanoElute2 up and running for routine ID of >4000 proteins per sample and deep quantitative DIA21-Apr-2023
Lizzy served on a MANO program panel for community college students interested in graduate school.10-Apr-2023
Thanks to Valerie and Meranda for volunteering at the 48th Annual UC DAVIS PowWow.08-Apr-2023
Congrats to Tracy Le for graduating.06-Apr-2023
Congrats to Sophie Scott for graduating06-Apr-2023
Brenda Luu, Mandy Lin, and Isabel Enriquez join the lab as interns27-Mar-2023
Valerie, Dawn, Sophie, Bryce, and Tracy went on a field trip to collect Botryllus.30-Jan-2023
Meranda passes QE - Congrats!17-Jan-2023
Dawn Wang joins the lab as a postdoc/ visiting faculty.20-Dec-2022
Chanhee gives exit seminar and graduates as a PhD - Congrats Dr. Kim!!!01-Dec-2022
Meranda started a position as the Academic Co-Chair of the EGSA.10-Oct-2022
Harris joins the lab as an intern.09-Sep-2022
Wes Dowd joins the lab as visiting faculty for a 4-month sabbatical.01-Sep-2022
Valerie Dong joins the lab as a grad student.24-Aug-2022