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Way Sung
waysung (at) indiana (dot) edu
(812) 856-0115

Post-doctoral Research Associate
Ph.D. 2011 Biochemistry, University of New Hampshire


My long-term research goals involve developing a comprehensive understanding of the primary forces of mutation, drift, selection, and recombination that drive evolutionary process. My current research in the Lynch Lab involves conducting mutation accumulation (MA) experiments in many bacterial species, with a goal of obtaining a broad understanding of the rate and molecular spectrum of mutations across the prokaryotic kingdom.

In these mutation accumulation experiments, each organism is taken through continuous single-cell bottlenecks, minimizing the effect of selection, allowing nearly all deleterious mutations to accumulate.  At the end of the experiment, each MA line is sequenced using high-throughput sequencing technology, providing the rate and spectrum of spontaneous mutations in each organism.

In this research, we explore the following issues:

  • Provide a direct estimate of mutation rate in each of these organisms.  Determine if Drake’s constant (0.003 mutations per genome per generation) holds true across prokaryotes.
  • Understanding of the effects that G/C content, genome size, and population size have on the baseline mutation spectrum in prokaryotes.
  • Determine if there is a deletion or insertion bias in prokaryotes.
  • Identify mutation clusters and attempt to understand the mechanism for these events.
  • Determine if the G/C to A/T mutation bias observed in eukaryotes also holds true in prokaryotes.

(B. subtilis MA shown in figure below)

The focus of my previous thesis work can be divided into three primary sections.  1) Capturing the rate and spectrum of spontaneous mutations in the three primary eukaryotic model organisms, Caenorhabditis elegans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Paramecium tetraurelia.  2)  Understanding the evolution of the ecological and evolutionary model organism Daphnia pulex.  3)   Explore the meiofauna diversity in a vast range of natural habitats. 



Lynch, M., Sung, W., Morris, K., Coffey, N., Landry, C.R., Dopman, E.B., Dickinson, W.J., Okamoto, K., Kulkarni, S., Hartl, D.L., et al. A genome-wide view of the spectrum of spontaneous mutations in yeast.  2008.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jul 8;105(27):9272-7.

Denver, D.R., Dolan, P.C., Wilhelm, L.J., Sung, W., Lucas-Lledo, J.I., Howe, D.K., Lewis, S.C., Okamoto, K., Thomas, W.K., Lynch, M.  A genome-wide view of Caenorhabditis elegans base-substitution mutation process.  2009.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Sep 22;106(38):16310-4.

Porazinska, D., Giblin-Davis, R., Faller, L., Farmerie, W., Kanzaki, N., Morris, K., Powers, T.O., Tucker, A.E., Sung, W., and Thomas, W.K.  Evaluating high-throughput sequencing as a method for metagenomic analysis of nematode discovery.  2009.  Mol Ecol Resour. Nov;9(6):1439-1450.

Li, W., Tucker, A.E., Sung, W., Thomas, W.K., and Lynch, M. (2009). Extensive, recent intron gains in Daphnia populations. 2009. Science. Nov 27;326(5957):1260-2.

Porazinska, D., Sung, W., Giblin-Davis, R., and Thomas, W.K. Reproducibility of read numbers in high-throughput sequencing analysis of nematode community composition and structure. 2010.  Mol Ecol Resour. Jul;10(4):666-76.

Fonseca, V.G., Carvalho, G.R., Sung, W., Johnson, H.F., Power, D.M., Neill, S.P., Packer, M., Blaxter, M.L., Lambshead, P.J., Thomas, W.K., et al. Second-generation environmental sequencing unmasks marine metazoan biodiversity. 2010.  Nature Commun. Oct 19;1:98.

Creer, S., Fonseca, V.G., Porazinska, D.L, Giblin-Davis, R.M., Sung, W., Power, D.M., Packer, M., Carvalho, G.R., Blaxter, M.L., Lambshread, P.K., et al. Ultrasequencing of the meiofaunal biosphere: practice, pitfalls and promises. 2010. Mol Ecol. Mar;19 Suppl 1:4-20.

Porazinska, D.L., Giblin-Davis, R.M., Esquivel, A., Powers, T.O., Sung, W., and Thomas, W.K. Ecometagenetics confirm high tropical rainforest nematode diversity. 2010. Mol Ecol. Dec;19(24):5521-30.

Sung, W., Tucker, A., Bergeron, R.D., Lynch, M., and Thomas, W.K. 2010. Simple sequence repeat variation in the Daphnia pulex genome. BMC Genomics. Dec 3;11:691.

J. K. Colbourne… Sung, W., et al. (68 authors). The ecoresponsive genome of Daphnia pulex. 2011. Science. Feb 4;331(6017):555-61.

Solorzano E, Okamoto K, Datla P, Sung W, Bergeron RD, Thomas WK.  Shifting patterns of natural variation in the nuclear genome of Caenorhabditis elegans. 2011.  BMC Evol Biol. Jun 16;11:168.

Bik H.M., Sung, W., De Ley P., Baldwin J., Sharma C., Rocha-Olivares A., Thomas W.K.  Metagenetic community analysis of microbial eukaryotes illuminates biogeographic patterns in deep sea and shallow water sediments (2011). Molecular Ecology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05297.x.

Sung W., Tucker A., Doak T.G., Choi J., Thomas W.K., Lynch M. 2011.  Extraordinary genome stability in the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia.  In prep.