Department of Biological Sciences

Walter Diehl

Office: 208 Allen Hall

B.S. Biology, College of William and Mary
M.S. Zoology, University of South Florida
Ph.D. Botany, University of South Florida

Statement of Research Interests
My current research interests are in the fields of evolutionary biology and comparative genomics, especially detecting natural selection in protein-coding genes. By computing selection indices based on predictions of the number of amino acid-changing nucleotide substitutions in genes from neutral theory for populations, clades, nodes, and phylogenies, I infer which evolutionary forces, including natural selection, act on populations as they diverge. This approach is being applied to understanding (1) the evolution of animal body plans, dorsoventral (head-tail) patterning and anterioposterior (front-back) patterning and the divergence of protostomous animals (most invertebrates) from deuterostomous animals (all vertebrates) that occurred over 6oo million years ago, (2) the evolution of the entire protein-coding genome in the Mycoplasma bacteria, which have the smallest genome (total genetic composition) of any living organisms, and (3) the molecular ecology of wood decay fungi and evolution of genes that encode enzymes that break down cellulose and lignin. My research has been funded by the USDA-ARS, USDA/WUR, NSF, NSF-REU, and NSF-EPSCoR. Currently I serve as Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Recent Publications
Cooper, C.R., Hanson, Diehl, W.J., Pharr, G.T., St. Cyr Coats, K. 1999. Natural Selection of the Pol gene of bovine immunodificiency virus. Virology 255:294-301.

McElroy, T.C., Presley, M.L., and Diehl, W.J. 1999. Genotypes of multiple allozyme loci interact with an experimental environment to affect survivorship in earthworms (Eisenia andrei). Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 123A:241-247.

Hranitz, J.M. and Diehl, W.J. 2000. Allozyme variation and population genetic structure during the life-history of Bufo woodhousii fowleri (Amphibia: Anura). Biochem. System. Ecol. 28:15-27.

McElroy, T.C. and Diehl, W.J. 2001. Heterosis in two closely related species of earthworm (Eisenia fetida and Eisenia andrei). Heredity 87: 598-608.

McElroy, T.C. and Diehl, W.J. 2005. Ontogenetic change in relative performance of allozyme genotypes influences detection of heterosis in the earthworm Eisenia andrei. Heredity 94: 258-263.

Prewitt, M.L., Diehl, S.V., McElroy, T.C., and Diehl, W.J. 2008. Comparison of general fungal and Basidiomycete specific ITS primers for identification of wood decay fungi. Forest Products Journal 58: 66-71.