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Alexandra Bentz

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Alexandra B. Bentz

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2017
M.S., Appalachian State University, 2012
B.S., Appalachian State University, 2010


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curriculum vitae

Research Interests

Research in my lab broadly focuses on how social experiences are encoded into organismal function, leading to long-term changes in physiology and behavior both within and across generations. I use experimental and observational approaches in the field and the lab that integrate tools from behavioral endocrinology and genomics across scales, from the molecular to the evolutionary. This work primarily occurs in free-living songbirds to explore how these processes function in dynamic social environments.

My current research interests are focused on the links between the maternal social environment and transgenerational plasticity. A female’s response to her environment can have lasting phenotypic consequences for her offspring through the transfer of maternal hormones. My lab is exploring the environmental and evolutionary factors that influence how females respond to social competition and the molecular mechanisms that facilitate the ensuing phenotypic plasticity within them and their offspring. I am especially interested in exploring the genomic and epigenomic mechanisms that generate this plasticity. 

Recent Publications

  • Wrobel, E.R.*, A.B. Bentz*, W.W. Lorenz, S.T. Gardner, M.T. Mendonça, and K.J. Navara. 2020. Corticosterone and testosterone treatment influence expression of gene pathways linked to meiotic segregation in preovulatory follicles of the domestic hen. PLoS ONE. 15: e0232120. ​​*equal contribution
  • ​Rosvall, K.A., A.B. Bentz, and E. George. 2020. How research on female vertebrates contributes to an expanded challenge hypothesis. Hormones and Behavior. 123: 104565.
  • Bentz, A.B., D.B. Rusch, A. Buechlein, and K.A. Rosvall. 2019. The neurogenomic transition from territory establishment to parenting in a territorial female songbird. BMC Genomics. 20: 819.
  • Bentz, A.B., G.W.C. Thomas, D.B. Rusch, and K.A. Rosvall. 2019. Tissue-specific expression profiles and positive selection analysis in the tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) using a de novo transcriptome assembly. Scientific Reports. 9: 15849.
  • Bentz, A.B., K.J. Philippi, and K.A. Rosvall. 2019. Evaluating seasonal patterns of female aggression: case study in a cavity-nesting bird with intense female-female competition. Ethology. 125: 555-564.  
  • Bentz, A.B., E.K. Dossey, and K.A. Rosvall. 2019. Tissue-specific gene regulation corresponds with seasonal plasticity in female testosterone and aggression. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 270: 26-34.
  • Bentz, A.B., V.A. Andreasen, and K.J. Navara. 2018. An experimental test of the relationship between yolk testosterone and the social environment in a colonial passerine. Journal of Avian Biology. 49: jav-01635. 
  • Bentz, A.B., D.J. Becker, and K.J. Navara. 2016. Evolutionary implications of interspecific variation in a maternal effect: a meta-analysis of yolk testosterone response to competition. Royal Society Open Science. 3: 160499.
  • Bentz, A.B., A.E. Sirman, H. Wada, K.J. Navara, and W. Hood. 2016. Relationship between maternal environment and DNA methylation patterns of estrogen receptor alpha in wild Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) nestlings: a pilot study. Ecology and Evolution. 6: 4741-4752.
  • Bentz, A.B., L. Siefferman, and K.J. Navara. 2013. Phenotypic plasticity in response to breeding density in tree swallows: an adaptive maternal effect? Hormones and Behavior. 64: 729-736.