Michael Brewer

Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Study: Bioinformatics and Genomics
Phone: 252-328-1833
Fax: 252-328-4178
Website: Brewer Lab Website
Office: N407A Howell Science Complex
Address: Department of Biology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858


Post-Doctoral: UC Berkeley, Department of ESPM, 2012-2014

PhD: Biology, East Carolina University, 2012

MS: Biology, Marshall University, 2007

BS: Biology, Marshall University, 2005

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Research Interests:

My lab’s research focuses on the patterns and processes that have shaped and continue to influence biological diversity. Our interests lie mostly in systematics, biogeography, comparative genomics, and bioinformatics. Using arthropods, namely myriapods and arachnids as focal taxa, we investigate several aspects concerning the evolution of organisms. As we face what some are calling the “sixth mass extinction”, recognizing the biological diversity that is present, the incipient nature of that diversity, and the factors that influence are intrinsic to its preservation is paramount. Arthropods comprise the largest component of described animal life on earth yet many groups are understudied in most regards including their systematics, life history, ecology, and genetics. Our research focuses on several key aspects of non-model arthropod species evolution and biodiversity from the level of genes to Linnaean classification ranks and the development of tools to better utilize modern molecular datasets.

Because few genomic resources exist for these focal lineages, my lab’s work has the potential for unique discoveries while presenting certain challenges that require an array of tools and bioinformatics expertise. I feel we are currently in a unique and exciting time in biological research, a point where generating genomic scale data is much easier than ever before. However, we suffer from a fundamental gap that now exists between the ease at which we can generate these data and the lack of tools and computational resources needed to analyze such enormous quantities of information. By developing new bioinformatics tools in conjunction with efficient use of existing software, I hope to contribute to the closing of the bioinformatics gap that currently stymies our ability to interpret and use these data efficiently. Several research topics that represent my interests are listed below.

1) Evolution and underlying genetics of arthropod color evolution

2) Comparative venomics of spiders and centipedes

3) Population genomics and phylogenomics

4) Develop bioinformatics tools for complex biological questions


***Yim, K.M.S. Brewer, C.T. Miller, & R.G. Gillespie. (2014). Comparative transcriptome analysis of maturity-associated color change in Hawaiian spiders. Journal of Heredity, 105(Special Issue): 771-781. [pdf]

Brewer, M.S., D.D. Cotoras, P.J.P. Croucher, & R.G. Gillespie. (2014). New sequencing technologies, the development of genomics tools, and their applications in evolutionary arachnology. Journal of Arachnology, 42: 1-5. [pdf]

Hamilton, C.A., B.E. Hendrixson,M.S. Brewer, & J.E. Bond. (2014). An evaluation of sampling effects on multiple DNA barcoding methods leads to an integrative approach for delimiting species: a case study in the North American tarantula genus Aphonopelma(Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Theraphosidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 71: 79-93. [pdf]

Croucher, P.J.P.,M.S. Brewer, G.S. Oxford, & R.G. Gillespie. (2013).De novocharacterization of the gene-rich transcritpomes of two color-polymorphic spiders,Theridion grallator and Theridion californicum(Araneae: Theridiidae), with special reference to pigment genes. BMC Genomics, 14:862. [pdf]

Brewer, M.S.& J.E. Bond. (2013). Ordinal-level phylogenomics of the arthropod class Diplopoda (millipedes) based on an analysis of 221 nuclear protein-coding loci generated using next-generation sequence analyses. PLoS ONE, 8(11): e79935. [pdf]

Brewer, M.S.& G.E. Gardner. (2013). Teaching Hardy-Weinburg population genetics and introducing students to evolution: a real-time, active learning exercise using classroom response devices. American Biology Teacher,75(7): 476-479. [pdf]

Balakrishnan, C.N., C. Chapus,M.S. Brewer, & D.F. Clayton. (2013). Brain transcriptome of the violet-eared waxbill Uraeginthus granatina and recent evolution in the songbird genome. Open Biology,3(9). [pdf]

Brewer, M.S., L. Swafford, C.L. Spruill, & J.E. Bond. (2013). Arthropod phylogenetics in light of three novel millipede (Myriapoda: Diplopoda) mitochondrial genomes with comments on the appropriateness of mitochondrial genome sequence data when investigating deep relationships. PLoS ONE, 8(7): e68005. [pdf]

Brewer, M.S., P. Sierwald, & J.E. Bond. (2012). Millipede taxonomy after 250 years: classification and taxonomic practices in a mega-diverse yet understudied arthropod group. PLoS ONE, 7(5): e37240.[pdf]

Brewer, M.S., C.L. Spruill, ***N.S. Rao, & J.E. Bond. (2012). Phylogenetics of the millipede genus Brachycybe Wood, 1864 (Diplopoda: Platydesmida: Andrognathidae): patterns of deep evolutionary history and recent speciation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 64: 232- 242.[pdf]

Brewer, M.S., P. Sierwald, & J.E. Bond. (2011). A generic homonym concerning chordeumatid millipedes (Arthropoda: Diplopoda) and ophellid worms (Annelida: Polycheata). Zootaxa, 2744: 65-68.[pdf]

***Bailey, A.L.,M.S. Brewer, B.E. Hendrixson, & J.E. Bond. 2010 (2010). Phylogeny and classification of the trapdoor spider genus Myrmekiaphila(Araneae: Cyrtaucheniidae): an integrative approach to evaluating taxonomic hypotheses. PLoS One, 5(9), e12744.[pdf]

Fet, V., M.E. Soleglad,M.S. Brewer, D.P.A. Neff & M.L. Norton. (2006). Vestigial serrula in scorpion genera Paravaejovis, Paruroctonus, Smeringurus and Vejovoidus(Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius, 49, pp. 1–20.[pdf - part 1][pdf - part 2]

Fet, V., M.E. Soleglad &M.S. Brewer. (2006). Laterobasal aculear serrations (LAS) in scorpion family Vaejovidae (Scorpiones: Chactoidea). Euscorpius, 45, pp. 1–19.[pdf]

Fet, V., M.E. Soleglad,M.S. Brewer, D.P.A. Neff & M.L. Norton. (2006). Constellation array in scorpion genera Paruroctonus, Smeringurus, Vejovoidus, and Paravaejovis(Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius, 41, pp. 1–15.[pdf]

Fet, V.,M.S. Brewer, M. E. Soleglad & D.P.A. Neff. (2006). Constellation array: a new sensory structure in scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Boletín de la Sociedad Entomologica Aragonesa, 38: 269–278. [pdf]

Courses Taught:

Principles of Biology II – BIOL 1200

Laboratory Personnel:

I recently arrived at ECU, and I am looking for motivated students (undergraduates, MS, or PhD candidates) to join the lab. Interested students should email me a brief statement of your research interests and CV.