Date of Award

Winter 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Matthew MacManes

Second Advisor

R. Daniel Bergeron

Third Advisor

David Plachetzki


The mechanisms behind the evolution and maintenance of striking visual phenotypes are as varied as the species that display these phenotypes. Multiple study systems have been well characterized and provide critical information about the evolution of these traits. However, new study systems in which the phenotype of interest can be easily manipulated and quantified are essential to answer many questions about the functionality of core evolutionary processes. One such model is elytral spot number of the multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Chapter 1). I describe Harmonia axyridis as a potential novel model species for examining extreme phenotypic evolution. To this end, I established an in-laboratory rearing protocol for H. axyridis (Chapter 2), explored the transcriptome of both the adult and larval life stages (Chapter 3), and conducted an initial genome analysis (Chapter 4). The contents of this thesis provide a characterization of the transcriptome and a draft genome that lays a foundation for further analysis and identification of the genes responsible for the continual maintenance of spot variation in H. axyridis.