Daphne Gille

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Post-doctoral Researcher


(530) 752-6351 (lab)

University of California, Davis
Department of Animal Science
One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616

Curriculum Vitae


BS – Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California Santa Cruz

MS – Organismal Biology, Conservation & Ecology (Emphasis: Conservation Genetics), San Jose State University

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in using genetic tools to answer ecological questions and to inform management decisions regarding the conservation of endangered species and populations. My dissertation research will focus on improving white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) caviar farming and aquaculture practices in the United States in an effort to reduce fishing pressure on wild stocks. Specifically, I will evaluate the heritability and identify genetic markers that are associated with high caviar yield and minimal ovarian adiposity. Other projects in wildlife conservation include the evaluation of population structure and genetic integrity of desert bighorn sheep in Arizona and determination of prevalence and characterization of the genetic strains of leptospirosis in California wild pigs.

Research Projects

Improving Parentage Assignment Accuracy Within Mixed Family Cohorts of Captive-Reared White Sturgeon

One obstacle that must be overcome in order to conduct experiments that evaluate the contribution of genetics to caviar yield and ovarian adiposity is the resolution of familial relationships and the construction of a reliable pedigree. Current methods to resolve familial relationships among captive reared white sturgeon use too few markers and are not accurate enough to proceed with heritability studies. I will test and incorporate six additional microsatellite markers (for a panel of 15 total microsatellite markers) into white sturgeon parentage analysis and identify the minimum number required to increase the accuracy of assignment to a target of 95% within families reared at a caviar farm in California.

Heritability of Caviar Yield and Ovarian Adiposity in Mature Captive-Reared Female White Sturgeon

One common problem that threatens the efficiency and success of caviar farming in the United States is highly variable roe yield in mature female white sturgeon associated with accumulation of fat in the ovaries. White sturgeon with lean ovaries tend to produce a greater yield of superior quality roe compared to those with fatty ovaries. While environmental, developmental, and genetic factors may all influence caviar yield and ovarian adiposity, the role of each factor is poorly understood. I will assess the role of genetics in determining caviar yield and ovarian adiposity by calculating narrow-sense heritability in mature female white sturgeon under different environmental conditions at a caviar farm in California.

Identification of Genetic Markers Associated With High Caviar Yield and Lean Ovaries

Very little is known about the white sturgeon genome, much less about the genes that are associated with caviar yield and ovarian adiposity. I will use Restriction-Site Associated DNA Sequencing (RADseq) using the Illumina platform to identify thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) throughout the white sturgeon genome. As sturgeon are complex polyploids, I will estimate the dosage of each SNP and use single-dose markers to construct a linkage map from which QTLs associated with high caviar yield and lean ovaries will be identified.

Daphne gille seal on beach imageDaphne gille turtle on beach imageDaphne gille seal image of her posing with a seal


Ernest H, Harmeling B, Goldberg L, Well J, Gille D. Yellow-billed Magpie genetic diversity and population structure prior to entry of West Nile Virus. In prep.

Singh VK, Christensen J, Fatanmi OO, Gille D, Ducey EJ, Wise SY, Singh PK, Karsunky H, Sedello AK. Myeloid progenitors: a radiation countermeasure that is effective when initiated days after irradiation. Submitted to Radiation Research.

Christensen JL, Gille DA, Smith-Berdan SK, Sagy M, Domen J, Sedello AK. Ex Vivo derived, pooled allogenic myeloid progenitors give rise to cells of the myelo-erythroid lineages in vivo and protect mice from lethal fungal challenge. Submitted to Stem Cells and Development.

Domen J, Christensen JL, Wahedi M, Danenberg E, Gille D, Smith-Berdan S, Fong T, and Brown JMY. Ex Vivo Expanded Cryopreserved Allogeneic Myeloid Progenitors Protect Against Lethal Invasive Aspergillosis In Neutropenic Mice. Submitted to Experimental Hematology.

Drauch Schreier A, Gille DA, Mahardja B, May B. 2011. Neutral markers confirm the octoploid origin and reveal spontaneous polyploidy in white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus. J Appl Ichthyol. 27(Suppl. 2):24-33.

Smith-Berdan S, Gille D, Weissman IL, Christensen, JL. 2007. Reversal of autoimmune disease in lupus-prone NZB/NZW mice by nonmyeloablative transplantation of purified allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells. Blood. 110(4): 1370-1378.