Science in the Mountains 
Workshop Series Presents
Molecules in the Mountains
Highlighting Molecular Strategies in Modern Biodiversity and Forensic Sciences
April 12, 2012
Western Carolina University
University Center, Cullowhee, NC
© WCU Public Relations Photo
© WCU Public Relations PhotoThe mountains of Western North Carolina are some of the most ancient on Earth and host unique biodiversity that rivals other global hotspots of species richness. Plant, insect, microbe, and salamander diversity are notable examples and these groups of organisms may contain novel gene products of basic and applied research interest. How the molecules within organisms interact at the local level as well as the ecosystem level is becoming increasingly important as biodiversity is lost, climate patterns change, and new products for industry and medicine are required. Understanding how molecules move through the environment and are altered by or impact life is a key to conserving and restoring natural ecosystems that will continue to act as a reservoir of novel products of commercial use. 

Molecular methods to assess biodiversity have rapidly progressed in the recent past. These same methods are identical to those used in DNA typing laboratories, including forensic crime laboratories. Continuing progress in the development of these methods promises to reveal additional genetic diversity across a wide spectrum of genera.