Bittersweet moment: Kyle and Fernando depart the lab for new positions

It was a wonderful and productive fours years and although I new this moment will eventually happen, it is sad to see postdocs Kyle Benowitz and Fernando Diaz leave the lab. I am very proud of them for all the success and work they have achieved while in the lab at the University of Arizona. This is especially the case given all that they had to deal with over the last year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a tough year to be looking for academic jobs, but they persevered. And although we will still be collaborating on projects and manuscripts for sometime, I will miss their presence and impact on my lab. Kyle is heading to Austin Peay State University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, and Fernando will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Colgate University. Wishing them the very best, much success and happiness.

NPR story about our lab doing science in the time of COVID

Our lab was featured in a story about getting science done during a pandemic. On the written story you can see a picture of Fernando Diaz (postdoc) in the field in Organ Pipe National Monument, a picture of some of our fly cages taken by Carson Allan (lab manager), and the reference to being in the lab around the clock was to the experiments that Kyle Benowitz (postdoc) did.

New USDA-NIFA funded project on the genomics of Bt resistance starts!!

On June 15, 2020 we officially started our work on uncovering the genetics of Bt resistance in the agricultural pest Helicoverpa zea (Corn earworm, CEW). This work is in collaboration with friends and great colleagues from the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona, Bruce Tabashnik and Yves Carriere, and from the USDA ALARC, Jeff Fabrick.

Chromosome-level genome assembly pipeline paper published in Molecular Ecology Resources

Working on ecologically interesting species is a powerful way to link patterns of variation from genes/genomes to organism level traits to the selective forces shaping it. To facilitate this, having a chromosome-level genome assembly is very helpful.  In this paper we outline how this is an attainable goal.  We provide a step-by-step guide for investigators that work on ecologically exciting species, but do not have a vast computational background.


Comparative genomic analysis of D. mojavensis paper published

Happy to see our BMC Genomics paper out.  This is the first ever paper that examines the pattern of genomic evolution across the four cactus host populations of Drosophila mojavensis.  So glad to see all of Carson’s hard work finally in print.

Allan, C. W. and Matzkin, L. M.  (2019).  Genomic analysis of the four ecologically distinct cactus host populations of Drosophila mojavensis. BMC Genomics. 20(1):732. doi:10.1186/s12864-019-6097-z


Bulk segregant paper out in G3 Early Online

Our paper looking at the underlying genetic architecture of locomotor behavior in Drosophila mojavensis using bulk segregant analysis is out in G3 Early Online.  Kyle Benowitz and Josh Coleman put a tremendous amount of effort in this study.  Awesome work.

Very excited to say that we have several other exciting studies on the genetic architecture of behavior, life history and morphological traits in D. mojavensis coming!!!

Recruiting graduate students

Graduate student opportunities in evolutionary genomics of adaptation and speciation at the University of Arizona

The Matzkin Lab ( at the University of Arizona, Department of Entomology is currently recruiting graduate students (PhD and MS) to join our diverse lab.  Our lab has several themes focusing mostly on the exciting cactophilic Drosophila system.  Among the ongoing projects are:

– Genomic evolution across cactophilic Drosophila.
– Quantitative genetics of behavioral strategies, life history characteristics, morphology associated with local ecological adaptation
– Ecological genomics of adaptation in cactophilic Drosophila (cactus host chemistry, nutrition, desiccation, thermal stress, aestivation, etc.)
– Evolutionary genomics of plasticity and transgenerational effects
– Genomics of speciation and the evolution of reproductive incompatibilities

The fact that we are located in the Sonoran Desert also facilitates field focused projects. If you are interested in these or other related topics please contact Luciano Matzkin (  Graduate students can apply via the Entomology and Insect Science (EIS) Graduate Program ( or the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program (  The application deadline for both programs is December 1st.


Genomics Postdoc Position Available

The Matzkin Lab at the University of Arizona, Department of Entomology ( is currently recruiting a postdoc to work on a variety evolutionary genomics projects focusing on the genomic diversification of cactophilic Drosophila. I am seeking a highly motivated and creative individual with strong computational and evolutionary genetics skills to join our evolutionary and ecological genomics lab. Postdoc will be based at The University of Arizona, Department of Entomology and will have the opportunity to interact with investigators at the BIO5 Institute and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The postdoc will be involved in all research aspects of the assigned projects and will have the opportunity to develop projects in consultation with Dr. Matzkin. Critical and independent thinking is very important for this position, as well as having the ability to analyze data, develop pipelines and genomic tools, write manuscripts and proposal writing. Postdoc will interact with the graduate and undergraduate students in the Matzkin lab at the University of Arizona as well as having the opportunity to be involved in outreach activities.

The postdoctoral researcher will be required to maintain up-to-date records of all experiments, analysis and data collected. The postdoc will report to Dr. Matzkin on a weekly basis on the progress of projects and experiments.  The postdoc will be required to have an active participation in writing publication manuscripts based on the research produced in the lab. The postdoctoral research will also be responsible in creating and maintaining a database of the genomic data as well as assisting in creating a web platform to disseminate the information to the broader community.

The candidate is expected to have a PhD in evolutionary biology, genomics, computational biology or related field. Postdoc must have excellent writing, communication and critical thinking skills with at least 1-3 publications (in print or submitted). Prior experience working with Drosophila a plus but not necessary.  The position is available to start immediately.  Funding for the position is for one year, with the possibility of extension pending additional funding.

Apply at (Posting number P20575). You will need to submit a 1) cover letter briefly outlining the candidate’s fit to the position and future goals 2) curriculum vitae 3) contact information (email and phone) for three references, preferably including doctoral advisor and/or postdoctoral advisor (if relevant) and 4) no more than three relevant publication PDFs. Please contact Luciano Matzkin ( if you have additional questions about the position.

Outstanding UA benefits include health, dental, vision, and life insurance; paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays; UA/ASU/NAU tuition reduction for the employee and qualified family members; access to UA recreation and cultural activities; and more! The University of Arizona has been recognized on Forbes 2015 list of America’s Best Employers in the United States and has been awarded the 2015 Work-Life Seal of Distinction by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress! For more information about working at the University of Arizona, please