The arrangement of organic molecules at the donor-acceptor interface in an organic photovoltaic (OPV) cell can have a strong effect on the generation of charge carriers and thereby cell performance. In this paper, we report the molecular-level exploration of the ensemble of interfacial donor-acceptor pair geometries and the charge-transfer (CT) rates to which they give rise. Our approach combines molecular-dynamics simulations, electronic structure calculations, machine learning, and rate theory. This approach is applied to the boron subphthalocyanine chloride (donor) and C60 (acceptor) OPV system. We find that the interface is dominated by a previously unreported donor-acceptor pair edge geometry, which contributes significantly to device performance in a manner that depends on the initial conditions. Quantitative relations between the morphology and CT rates are established, which can be used to advance the design of more efficient OPV devices.



In species with polygenic sex determination, multiple male- and/or female-determining loci on different proto-sex chromosomes segregate as polymorphisms within populations. The extent to which these polymorphisms are stable equilibria is not yet resolved. Previous work demonstrated that polygenic sex determination is most likely to be maintained as a stable polymorphism when the proto-sex chromosomes have opposite (sexually antagonistic) fitness effects in males and females. However, these models usually consider polygenic sex determination systems with only two proto-sex chromosomes, or they do not broadly consider the dominance of the variants under selection. To address these shortcomings, I used forward population genetic simulations to identify selection pressures that can maintain polygenic sex determination under different dominance scenarios in a system with more than two proto-sex chromosomes (modeled after the house fly). I found that overdominant fitness effects of male-determining proto-Y chromosomes in males are more likely to maintain polygenic sex determination than dominant, recessive, or additive fitness effects. I also found that additive fitness effects that maintain polygenic sex determination have the strongest signatures of sexually antagonistic selection, but there is also some evidence for sexually antagonism when fitness effects of proto-Y chromosomes are dominant or recessive. More generally, these results suggest that the expected effect of sexually antagonistic selection on the maintenance of genetic variation in natural populations will depend on whether the alleles are sex-linked and the dominance of their fitness effects.

Research Topics

We have developed a computational method of atomistically refining the structural ensemble of intrinsically disordered peptides (IDPs) facilitated by experimental measurements using circular dichroism spectroscopy (CD). A major challenge surrounding this approach stems from the deconvolution of experimental CD spectra into secondary structure features of the IDP ensemble. Currently available algorithms for CD deconvolution were designed to analyze the spectra of proteins with stable secondary structures. Herein, our work aims to minimize any bias from the peptide deconvolution analysis by implementing a non-negative linear least-squares fitting algorithm in conjunction with a CD reference data set that contains soluble and denatured proteins (SDP48). The non-negative linear least-squares method yields the best results for deconvolution of proteins with higher disordered content than currently available methods, according to a validation analysis of a set of protein spectra with Protein Data Bank entries. We subsequently used this analysis to deconvolute our experimental CD data to refine our computational model of the peptide secondary structure ensemble produced by all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with implicit solvent. We applied this approach to determine the ensemble structures of a set of short IDPs, that mimic the calmodulin binding domain of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II and its 1-amino-acid and 3-amino-acid mutants. Our study offers a, to our knowledge, novel way to solve the ensemble secondary structures of IDPs in solution, which is important to advance the understanding of their roles in regulating signaling pathways through the formation of complexes with multiple partners.

Sex chromosomes and sex determining genes can evolve fast, with the sex-linked chromosomes often differing between closely related species. Population genetics theory has been developed and tested to explain the rapid evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determination. However, we do not know why the sex chromosomes are divergent in some taxa and conserved in others. Addressing this question requires comparing closely related taxa with conserved and divergent sex chromosomes to identify biological features that could explain these differences. Cytological karyotypes suggest that muscid flies (e.g., house fly) and blow flies are such a taxonomic pair. The sex chromosomes appear to differ across muscid species, whereas they are conserved across blow flies. Despite the cytological evidence, we do not know the extent to which muscid sex chromosomes are independently derived along different evolutionary lineages. To address that question, we used genomic and transcriptomic sequence data to identify young sex chromosomes in two closely related muscid species, horn fly (Haematobia irritans) and stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans). We provide evidence that the nascent sex chromosomes of horn fly and stable fly were derived independently from each other and from the young sex chromosomes of the closely related house fly (Musca domestica). We present three different scenarios that could have given rise to the sex chromosomes of horn fly and stable fly, and we describe how the scenarios could be distinguished. Distinguishing between these scenarios in future work could identify features of muscid genomes that promote sex chromosome divergence.