We study how evolution has produced a diversity of life. We are interested in learning about the actual history of life on Earth as well as the general properties of evolution that have contributed to these historical patterns. The type of questions we ask require field (marine), laboratory, and computational work. Our research falls into several domains.
Siphonophores are unique marine animals found throughout the oceans of the world. They are colonial - each siphonophore starts as a single embryo that asexually produces many genetically identical, physiologically integrated bodies. The many bodies in a siphonophore are each specialized for particular functions, such as feeding or swimming. We study the morphology, evolution, and development of siphonophores to understand this unique functional specialization.
Phylogenetics is the study of evolutionary relationships. We develop new methods and tools for understanding phylogenetic relationships, and apply these tools to animals to understand the evolution of complex traits. We are particularly interested in deep animal phylogeny, but also work on subgroups of animals including cnidarians and molluscs.
Many of the questions we are work on require new computational methods and tools. We develop and implement new methods, connect existing analysis tools in new ways, and are particularly interested in engineering analyses so that they are open, transparent, reproducible, and easy to extend. Our data analysis tools are available at bitbucket.
We sequence transcriptomes to build phylogenies and to identify genes that are differentially expressed between tissues and developmental stages. We have integrated these two approaches to now study the evolution of differential gene expression. This work provides new ways to understand the relationships between genome and phenotype evolution.
In addition to the specific domains highlighted above, we are very interested in the basic biology of animals. Since many of the animals we work on are so poorly known, these studies include descriptions of lifecycles, natural history, development, alpha taxonomy, functional biology, and morphology.
Brown University Green, fall of 2013.
My CV is available here.
The evolution of development, organogenesis, and gene-phenotype relationships. My site.
As an application scientist, I help researchers better utilize high performance computing resources.
Origin and evolution of new levels of biological organization. Evolution and development of functional specialization in siphonophores.
Evolutionary processes, applied math. Phylogenetic algorithms and the reproducibility and accuracy of their results.
Impacts of organic matter inputs and sea ice retreat on marine bacterial community structure in Antarctica.
Evolution and diversification of trophic niches and predatory strategies in siphonophores.
Phylogenetics, diversity, and computational biology. I am a botanist, but enjoy animals too. My site.
The developmental biology and diversity of hydrozoans (Cnidaria).
Comparative biology and phylogenetics, as well as developmental biology. Histology and development of siphonophores.
Comparative biology with additional interests in conservation. Inspired by the diversity of life.
Hejnol, A, CW Dunn (2016) Animal Evolution: Are Phyla Real? Current Biology 26:R424–R426. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.058.
Guang, A, F Zapata, M Howison, CE Lawrence, CW Dunn (2016) An Integrated Perspective on Phylogenetic Workflows. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31:116-126. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2015.12.007.
Dunn, CW (2015) Acorn worms in a nutshell. Nature 527:448-449. doi:10.1038/nature16315.
Zapata, F, FE Goetz, SA Smith, M Howison, S Siebert, S Church, SM Sanders, CL Ames, CS McFadden, SC France, M Daly, AG Collins, SHD Haddock, CW Dunn, P Cartwright (2015) Phylogenomic analyses support traditional relationships within Cnidaria. PLoS One 10(10): e0139068. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139068. bioRxiv preprint: doi:10.1101/017632. Git code repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/cnidaria2014.
Dunn, CW, JT Ryan (2015) The evolution of animal genomes. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 35:25-32. doi:10.1016/j.gde.2015.08.006.
Haddock, SH, CW Dunn (2015) Fluorescent proteins function as a prey attractant: experimental evidence from the hydromedusa Olindias formosus and other marine organisms. Biology Open 4:1094-1104. doi:10.1242/bio.012138.
Laumer, CE, N Bekkouche, A Kerbl, F Goetz, RC Neves, MV Sørensen, RM Kristensen, A Hejnol, CW Dunn, G Giribet, K Worsaae (2015) Spiralian Phylogeny Informs the Evolution of Microscopic Lineages. Current Biology 25(15):2000-2006. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.068.
Siebert, S, FE Goetz, SH Church, P Bhattacharyya, F Zapata, SHD Haddock, and CW Dunn. (2015) Stem Cells in a Colonial Animal with Localized Growth Zones. EvoDevo 6:22. doi:10.1186/s13227-015-0018-2. bioRxiv preprint: doi:10.1101/001685. Git code repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/siebert_etal.
Salinas-Saavedra, M, TQ Stephenson, CW Dunn, MQ Martindale (2015) Par system components are asymmetrically localized in ectodermal epithelia, but not during early development in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. EvoDevo 6:20. doi:10.1186/s13227-015-0014-6.
Helm, RR, S Tiozzo, MKS Lilley, F Lombard, CW Dunn (2015) Comparative muscle development of scyphozoan jellyfish with simple and complex life cycles. EvoDevo 6:11. doi:10.1186/s13227-015-0005-7.
Dunn, CW, SP Leys, SHD Haddock (2015) The hidden biology of sponges and ctenophores. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30:282-291. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2015.03.003
Reich, A, CW Dunn, K Akasaka, G Wessel (2015) Phylogenomic Analyses of Echinodermata Support the Sister Groups of Asterozoa and Echinozoa. PLoS One 10:e0119627. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119627
Zapata, F, NG Wilson, M Howison, SCS Andrade, KM Jörger, Michael Schrödl, Freya E Goetz, Gonzalo Giribet, Casey W Dunn (2014) Phylogenomic analyses of deep gastropod relationships reject Orthogastropoda. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281:1471-2954. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.1739 (pdf). bioRxiv preprint: doi:10.1101/007039. Git code repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/gastropoda.
Howison, M, F Zapata, EJ Edwards, and CW Dunn (2014) Bayesian genome assembly and assessment by Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling. PLoS One 9:e99497. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099497. arXiv preprint: 1308.1388. Git code repository: https://bitbucket.org/mhowison/gabi. Example analysis report: https://web3.ccv.brown.edu/mhowison/gabi-report/
Ryan, JF, K Pang, CE Schnitzler, A Nguyen, RT Moreland, DK Simmons, BJ Koch, WR Francis, P Havlak, NISC Comparative Sequencing Program, SA Smith, NH Putnam, SHD Haddock, CW Dunn, TG Wolfsberg, JC Mullikin, MQ Martindale, AD Baxevanis (2013) The genome of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and its implications for cell type evolution. Science 432:1242592. doi:10.1126/science.1242592, PMC3920664 (pdf)
CW Dunn, M Howison, and F Zapata (2013) Agalma: an automated phylogenomics workflow. BMC Bioinformatics 14:330. doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-330. arXiv preprint: 1307.6432. Git code repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/agalma (software), https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/dunnhowisonzapata2013 (analyses).
Siebert, S, MD Robinson, SC Tintori, F Goetz, RR Helm, SA Smith, N Shaner, SHD Haddock, CW Dunn (2011) Differential Gene Expression in the Siphonophore Nanomia bijuga (Cnidaria) Assessed with Multiple Next-Generation Sequencing Workflows. PLoS One 6(7): e22953. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022953 (pdf)
Hejnol, A, M Obst, A Stamatakis, M Ott, G Rouse, G Edgecombe, P Martinez, J Baguñà, X Bailly, U Jondelius, M Wiens, WEG Müller, Elaine Seaver, WC Wheeler, MQ Martindale, G Giribet, and CW Dunn (2009) Assessing the root of bilaterian animals with scalable phylogenomic methods. Proc. R. Soc. B. 276:4261-4270 doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0896 (pdf). Git repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/hejnol_etal_2009.
Giribet, G, CW Dunn, GD Edgecombe, A Hejnol, MQ Martindale, and GW Rouse (2009) Assembling the spiralian tree of life (p 52-64) In: Animal Evolution. MJ Telford and DTJ Littlewood (eds). Oxford University Press.
Dunn, CW, A Hejnol, DQ Matus, K Pang, WE Browne, SA Smith, E Seaver, GW Rouse, M Obst, GD Edgecombe, MV Sorensen, SHD Haddock, A Schmidt-Rhaesa, A Okusu, RM Kristensen, WC Wheeler, MQ Martindale, and G Giribet (2008) Broad phylogenomic sampling improves resolution of the Animal Tree of Life. Nature. 452:745-749. doi:10.1038/nature06614 (pdf)
Giribet, G, CW Dunn, GD Edgecombe, and GW Rouse (2007) A modern look at the Animal Tree of Life. Zootaxa 1668:61-79. (pdf)
Mills, CE, AC Marques, AE Migotto, DR Calder, C Hand, JT Rees, SHD Haddock, CW Dunn, and PR Pugh. (2007) Hydrozoa: Polyps, Hydromedusae, and Siphonophora. In: The Light & Smith manual: intertidal invertebrates from central California to Oregon, 4th edition. JT Carlton (ed). University of California Press.
Dunn, CW, PR Pugh, and SHD Haddock (2005) Molecular phylogenetics of the Siphonophora (Cnidaria), with implications for the evolution of functional specialization. Systematic Biology 54:916-935. doi:10.1080/10635150500354837 (pdf). Git repository: https://bitbucket.org/caseywdunn/siphonophores_2005.
Dunn, CW, PR Pugh, and SHD Haddock (2005) Marrus claudanielis, a new species of deep-sea physonect siphonophore (Siphonophora, Physonectae). Bull. Mar. Sci. 76:699-714. (pdf)
Haddock, SHD and CW Dunn (2005) The complex world of siphonophores. JMBA Global Marine Environment 2005(2):24-25. (pdf)