Assistant Professor of Public HealthHealth Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
2013-present - Assistant Professor of Public Health (Health Sciences Research Institute), University of California at Merced
2006-2013 - Assistant Professor (Human Genetics), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
2005-2006 - Research Assistant Professor (Human Genetics), University of Utah
2002-2005 - Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow (Human Genetics), University of Utah
1998-2001 - Ph.D. (Anthropology), University of Utah
1992-1996 - M.S. (Biology), University of Utah
1988-1992 - B.A. (Biology), University of Colorado
Molecular evolution of taste perception
Research in my lab is focused on two questions: 1) How have demographic history and natural selection interacted to shape genetic diversity in humans and other primates?, and 2) What are the phenotypic and health implications for populations today? We address these questions by using theoretical and computational tools to detect signatures of evolutionary change in DNA sequences and genotypes.
A major emphasis for us is on the molecular evolution of taste perception. Taste perception plays a vital role in animal nutrition and health. By enabling the detection of nutrients and toxins in foods and other substances in the environment, taste enables response: consumption or avoidance. The importance of this role to fitness suggests that taste perception and its underlying mechanisms have been under intense selective pressures throughout the course of human evolution. We investigate these pressures by analyzing genetic diversity in taste receptors, functional variation, and perception in humans, chimpanzees, and other primates.
A complete list of my publications, along with reprints, can be found here. Most of my publications are also listed in PubMed.
Wooding, S.P. 2011. Signatures of natural selection in a primate bitter taste receptor. Journal of Molecular Evolution 73:257-265. [REPRINT] Wooding, S., Bufe, B., Grassi, C., Howard, M.T., Stone, A.C., Vazquez, M., Dunn, D.M., Meyerhof, W., Weiss, R.B., Bamshad, M.J. 2006. Independent evolution of bitter-taste sensitivity in humans and chimpanzees. Nature 440:930-934. [REPRINT] Wooding, S., Kim, U.-k., Bamshad, M. J., Larsen, J., Jorde, L. B., Drayna, D. 2004. Natural selection and molecular evolution in PTC, a bitter taste receptor gene. American Journal of Human Genetics 74:637-646. [REPRINT] Wooding, S., Gunn, H., Ramos, P., Thalmann, S., Xing, C., Meyerhof, W. 2010. Genetics and bitter taste responses to goitrin, a plant toxin found in vegetables. Chemical Senses 35:685-692. [REPRINT] Bamshad, M., Wooding, S. 2003. Signatures of natural selection in the human genome. Nature Reviews Genetics 4:99-111. [REPRINT]