Oral Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Mapping the Eukaryote Chromosome:   From Primary Constriction to Monia Gap. (#231)

Gregory B Peters 1 , Chris Moran 2
  1. Childrens Hospital at Westmead, North Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Faculty of Veterinary Science, , University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Graham Charles Webb and his many colleagues studied the eukaryote chromosome in diverse contexts.  Within this body of work, four themes appear:

  • Structural & numerical mutation of karyotype: as an indicator of [and agent within] the evolution of insect populations.
  • Chromosome mutation in human [clinical] cytogenetics.
  • Mammalian gene mapping.
  • Reproductive effects of chromosome mutation, in species of agricultural importance.

Theme 1 grew from Graham’s early years in the laboratory of Prof. Michael White, with whom he was closely associated, from 1965.  As his PhD student, Graham was involved in Prof. White's "...work on the coastal species of Morabine grasshoppers in Victoria and South Australia, which led to the formulation of a special form of Sympatric Speciation: Stasipatric Speciation, for which Michael was justifiably famous” [Webb, pers com].  In a separate study, Graham’s own work led him to the belief [contra MJDW!] that the parthenogenetic species Warramaba virgo had an origin through species hybridization. This hybrid origin was indeed confirmed, by molecular study, in 1981.

Theme 2: From 1967, Graham established a parallel career, in detection of human chromosome mutations, via diagnostic testing. Through that work, with particular emphasis on the technique of in situ hybridisation**, Graham won the reputation as Australia’s doyen of clinical cytogeneticists.

Theme 3: In the 1980s, Graham adapted his **ISH expertise to gene mapping, in humans and mice.  This work expanded to include other mammals, and Graham came to be recognised throughout the world for his technical excellence. Not least of which was his uncanny ability to learn, in short order, the complex G-band karyotype of any given species, be it a primate, rat, goat, sheep, cow, pig, etc.  Not surprisingly, “Theme 4” arose as a synthesis of all the above.

GC Webb's contributions to these themes will be discussed, in relation to current knowledge.