Welcome to the Evolutionary and Developmental Genomics (EDGe) lab at UTSA. Our group is nested within the Developmental and Regenerative Sciences program in the Department of Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology. Broadly, our research focuses on understanding the evolution and function(s) of a class of ‘selfish’ genes called meiotic drive genes, which violate Mendel’s law of segregation during gamete formation (sperm and egg cells). We study how their selfish activities can adversely affect germline development, reproduction, and fertility. We use Drosophila as a model study meiotic drive, and our research utilizes a combination of evolutionary genomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics approaches to study their molecular mechanisms of action.

Besides, our laboratory is also interested in understanding how genetic conflicts mediated by selfish genes (such as meiotic drive genes and transposable elements) shape the evolution of genes essential for germline development and fertility. On a connected theme, using extensive integrative genomic resources available from model organisms such as Drosophila , mice, and primates, our research focuses on discovering novel genes (conserved and lineage-specific) essential for male fertility.



Principal Investigator

I joined UTSA’s Developmental and Regenerative Sciences program within the Department of Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2023. Prior to that, I was an NIH Pathway to Independence postdoctoral fellow in the Developmental Biology Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and obtained my Ph.D. in Evolutionary/Population genomics from the University of Rochester, NY. I began to use Drosophila as a model to study germline conflicts both during my graduate and postdoctoral work. At UTSA, our work on selfish genes and genetic conflicts continues with the Drosophila model. In addition, we use bioinformatics approaches to examine genome sequence data from vertebrate model organisms such as mice to understand how selfish genes shape genome evolution.

e-mail: jeffrey.vedanayagam@utsa.edu

Graduate Students

Kendall Green from the Developmental and Regenerative Sciences (DRS) PhD program is currently doing a rotation in the lab

Research Technician

My name is Milagros Alonso, Mili for short, and I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina. I obtained my Bachelors degree at UTSA in Environmental Science with a concentration in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Since my graduation from UTSA, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from some of the most intelligent and passionate Keepers in the zoological field at the San Antonio Zoo, and a non-profit animal education facility called Zoomagination. Now, by joining UTSA’s own Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology Department as a Research Assistant Scientist, I’m excited to return to my roots to push my learning and understanding of the Sciences that govern our lives every day.

e-mail: milagros.alonso@utsa.edu

Lab Mascot/Administrative Assistant

I am Zeno and I like paradoxes. I provide administrative (and emotional) support to the EDGe lab. I was rescued in Brooklyn, NY, and made my way to Texas when the lab was founded in Fall 2023. I have mastered the art of sighing and each sigh is loaded with emotion. Especially, when you show your rejected papers, grants, summary statements, etc. You can call me the Shakespeare of sighs. Make sure you don't drop anything on the floor, I am on it faster than any high-tech vacuum. Also remember, I'm eco-friendly and powered entirely by treats and belly rubs. I am here to cheer you all up!

no emails, only treats please!


Peer-reviewed publications

14. Signor. S, Vedanayagam. J, Kim. B. Y, Wierzbicki. F, Kofler. R, Lai. E.C. Rapid evolutionary diversification of the flamenco locus across simulans clade Drosophila species PLoS Genetics 2023; 19 (8): e1010914. PDF

13. Vedanayagam. J, Lin. C, Papareddy. R, Nodine. M, Flynt A.S, Wen. J, Lai. E.C. Regulatory logic of endogenous RNAi in silencing de novo genomic conflicts PLoS Genetics 2023; 19 (6): e1010787. PDF

12. Vedanayagam. J*, Herbette. M*, Mudgett. H, Lin. C, Gunasinghe. H, McDonough-Goldstein. C, Dorus. S, Loppin. B, Meiklejohn. C, Dubruille. R, Lai. E.C. Essential and recurrent roles for hairpin RNAs in silencing de novo sex chromosome conflict in Drosophila simulans PLoS Biology 2023; 21 (6): e3002136. *equal contribution PDF

11. Shang. R, Kretov. D.R, Adamson. I.S, Treiber. T, Treiber. N, Vedanayagam. J, Chuang. J.H, Meister. G, Cifuentes. D, Lai. E.C. Regulated dicing of pre-mir-144 via reshaping of its terminal loop . Nucleic Acids Res. 2022; 50 (13): 7637-7654. PDF

10. Vedanayagam. J, Lin. C, Lai. E.C. Rapid evolutionary dynamics of an expanding family of meiotic drive factors and their hpRNA suppressors . Nature Ecol. & Evol. 2021; 5: 1613–1623. PDF

9. Chakraborty. M, Chang. C-H, Khost. D.E, Vedanayagam. J, Adrion. J.R, Liao. Y, Montooth. K, Meiklejohn. C.D, Larracuente. A.M, Emerson. J.J. Evolution of genome structure in the Drosophila simulans species complex . Genome Res. 2021; 31:1-17. PDF

8. Vedanayagam. J, Chatila. W, Aksoy. B.M, Majumdar. S, Skanderup. A.J, Lee. W, Demir. E, Ciriello. G, Schultz. N, Sander. C, Lai. E.C. Cancer-associated mutations in DICER1 RNase IIIa and IIIb domains exert similar effects on miRNA biogenesis. Nature Commun., 2019; 10:3682.PDF

7. Meiklejohn. C.D, Landeen. E.L, Gordon. K.E, Rzatkiewicz. T, Kingan. S.B, Geneva. A.J, Vedanayagam. J, Muirhead.C.A, Garrigan. D, Stern. D.L, Presgraves. D.C. Gene flow mediates the role of sex chromosome meiotic drive during complex speciation. eLife 2018; 7:e354. PDF

6. Lin. C, Hu. F, Dubruille. R, Vedanayagam. J, Wen. J, Smibert. P, Loppin. B, Lai. E.C. The hpRNA/RNAi pathway is essential to resolve intragenomic conflict in the Drosophila male germline. Developmental Cell 2018; 46: 316-326. PDF

5. Kondo.S*, Vedanayagam. J*, Mohammed. J, Eizadshenass. S, Kan. L, Pang. N, Aradhya. R, Siepel. A, Steinhauer. J, Lai. E.C. New genes often acquire male-specific functions but rarely become essential in Drosophila . Genes & Development 2017; 31:1841-1846. *equal contribution PDF

4. Kan.L, Grozhik A.V, Vedanayagam. J, Patil D.P, Pang. N, Lim. K, Huang. Y, Joseph. B, Lin. C, Despic. V, Guo. J, Yan. D, Kondo. S, Deng. W, Dedon. P, Jaffrey. S.R, Lai. E.C. The m6A pathway facilitates sex determination in Drosophila. Nature Commun. 2017; 8:15737. PDF

3. Vedanayagam. J, Garrigan. D. The effects of natural selection across molecular pathways in Drosophila melanogaster . BMC Evol Biol. 2015; 15:203.PDF

2. Garrigan. D, Kingan S.B, Geneva. A.J, Vedanayagam. J, Presgraves. D.C. Genome diversity and divergence in Drosophila mauritiana: multiple signatures of faster X evolution . Genome Biol Evol. 2014; 6(9):2444–2458. PDF

1. Nandineni. M.R, Vedanayagam. J. Selective enrichment of human DNA from non-human DNAs for DNA typing of decomposed skeletal remains . Forensic Sci.Int. Gene. Suppl. 2009; 2(1) 520-521. PDF


08 Sep 2021 . news . Work on meiotic drive and suppression received K99/R00 funding from NIH Comments

National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded a K99/R00 funding for my work to study evolutionary and molecular bases of meiotic drive and suppression. Huge thanks to people who have supported me in this endeavor of beginner’s grantsmanship.

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Ongoing support:

R00 Pathway to Independence Award (2024-2026)

Completed support:

NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (2012-2015)


Evolutionary & Developmental Genomics (EDGe) lab
Biological Sciences Building BSB 2.03.38
One UTSA Circle
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX 78249