Title: Associate Professor
Area of Study: Evolutionary and Behavioral Genomics
Phone: (252) 328-2910
Fax: (252) 328-4178
Website: Balakrishnan Lab Website
Office: N212B Howell Science Complex
Address: East Carolina University
Department of Biology
N212B Howell Science Complex
Greenville, NC 27858
Ph.D.: Biology, Boston University, 2005
B.A.: Biology, University of Pennsylvania 1997
in the Balakrishnan Lab is aimed at understanding how genes and the environment
interact to generate biodiversity. By combining a historical perspective with
functional and comparative genomics, we seek to uncover both the genomic basis
of evolutionary adaptation and the ecological and demographic processes
responsible for population divergence. Our work revolves around three central
Speciation Biology: We are interested in understanding both
ecological and genomic aspects of the speciation process using (mostly) birds
as a model system. We’ve been using the zebra finch as an avian model for
mechanistic speciation studies, such as those examine regulatory divergence
during speciation. We also study speciation in the wild. Indigobirds, one of our study systems, represent a
remarkable case of sympatric speciation and the evolution of morphological
Genes, Brains & Behavior: The zebra finch has long been an
important system for the study of behavior, in particular, the neural and
molecular basis of learned vocal communication. We take a comparative approach
to place these studies of the zebra finch in an evolutionary context. Our
studies of brood parasitic birds, including the indigobirds mentioned above,
are aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying variation in song learning
and other aspects of social behavior.
Functional Genomics: We use comparative genomic approaches to study the evolution of avian
(and other) genomes. We have been involved in multiple avian genome sequencing
projects including that of the zebra finch and the recently published
white-throated sparrow. We use these genomes to examine aspects of molecular
evolution, avian immune function and a variety of other aspects of avian
All publications on Google Scholar
All publications on Research Gate
*denotes ECU student author
M. Kopp, M.S. Servedio, T.C. Mendelson, R.J. Safran, R.L. Rodriguez, E.C. Scordato, L.B. Symes, C.N. Balakrishnan, M.E. Hauber, D.M. Zonana, G.S. van Doorn. 2018. Mechanisms of assortative mating in speciation: connecting theory and empirical research. The American Naturalist 191(1).
D.J. Newhouse*, E. Hofmeister & C.N. Balakrishnan. 2017. Transcriptional response to West Nile Virus infection in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Royal Society Open Science 4: 170296.
Davidson, J.D.* & C.N. Balakrishnan. 2016. Gene regulatory divergence during speciation in a songbird. G3: Genes, Genomes & Genetics 6:1357-1364.
Hebets, E.A., A.B. Barron, C.N. Balakrishnan, M.E. Hauber, P.H. Mason & K.L. Hoke. 2016. A systems approach to animal signaling. Proceeding of the Royal Society B 283(1826): 20152889.
Tuttle, E.A., A.O. Bergland, M.S. Brewer, D.J. Newhouse*, Z.C. Cheviron, M. Stager. W.C. Warren, R. Gonser, C.N. Balakrishnan. 2016. Divergence and functional degradation of a sex chromosome-like supergene. Current Biology 26(3):344-350.
Newhouse, D.J.* & C.N. Balakrishnan. 2015. High MHC diversity despite bottlenecks in wild and domesticated zebra finches. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:256.
Singhal, S., E.M. Leffler, K. Sannareddy, I. Turner, O. Venn, D.M. Hooper, A.I. Strand, Q. Li, B. Raney, C.N. Balakrishnan, S.C. Griffith, G. McVean, M. Przeworski. 2015. Stable recombination hotspots in birds. Science 350: 928-932.
Balakrishnan, C.N., R. Ekblom, R. Godinez, M. Volker, H. Kotkiewicz, H. Westerdahl, D. Burt, T. Graves, D. Griffin, W. Warren and S.V. Edwards. 2010. Gene duplication and fragmentation of the songbird major histocompatibility complex (MHC). BMC Biology 8: 29.
Balakrishnan, C.N. & S.V. Edwards. 2009. Nucleotide variation, linkage disequilibrium and founder-facilitated speciation in wild populations of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Genetics 181: 645-660.
Balakrishnan, C.N., K.M. Sefc & M.D. Sorenson. 2009. Incomplete reproductive isolation following host shift in brood parasitic indigobirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 276: 219-228.
Balakrishnan, C.N. and M.D. Sorenson. 2006. Premating reproductive isolation among sympatric indigobird species and host races. Behavioral Ecology 17: 473-478.
3620 Biological Evolution
BIOL 4240/7240 Genome Evolution
6220 Advances in Ecology
6992/6993 Next Generation Sequencing Techniques and Analysis