Ron I. Eytan

Assistant Professor
Department of Marine Biology

"The Department of Marine Biology at TAMUG is home to a diverse, interdisciplinary faculty that provides instruction and training in evolution, molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, anatomy, taxonomy, physiology, and the behavior and ecology of estuarine/marine flora and fauna. "
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Learn more about Ron I. Eytan

Get To Know Ron I. Eytan

My name is Ron Eytan. My lab studies the origin and maintenance of marine biodiversity, primarily in coral reef fishes, using genomic and computational methods. My lab has broad interests in phylogenomics and phylogeography, population genetics/genomics, and the geography and genetics of speciation in reef fishes.


The focus of my research is the origin and maintenance of marine biodiversity, particularly in coral reef fishes. My Ph.D. dissertation work was on the population genetics and rates of molecular evolution of a group of small Neotropical reef fishes, the tube blenny genus Acanthemblemaria. My postdoctoral work focused on resolving and measuring the Acanthomorph Tree of Life.

At this point, my lab's primary focus is on the group of fishes called blennies. Why blennies? Near et al. (2013) found that blennies are one of the most exceptionally diverse groups of fishes living on reefs. My lab aims to understand this diversity at multiple levels of biological organization, ranging from molecular evolution at the level of the genome, population genetics at regional spatial scales, cryptic speciation and local endemism, to higher level molecular phylogenetics and systematics. We have a holistic approach to our research, combining genomic, computational, and classical genetic methods, with a healthy dose of field work.


B.S. University of Miami, 1999.
Ph.D. Louisiana State University, 2010.

Courses Taught

MARB 310: Introduction to Cell Biology


Alex Dornburg, Jon Moore, Jeremy M. Beaulieu, R. I. Eytan, Thomas J. Near The impact of shifts in marine biodiversity hotspots on patterns of range evolution: evidence from the Holocentridae (squirrelfishes and soldierfishes). Accepted Evolution

Price, S. A., L. Schmitz, C. E. Oufiero, R. I. EytanA. Dornburg, W. L. Smith, M. Friedman, T. J. Near, and P. C. Wainwright. Two waves of colonization straddling the K–Pg boundary formed the modern reef fish fauna. (2014) Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 1783

Matt Friedman, Benjamin P Keck, Alex Dornburg, Ron I Eytan, Christopher H Martin, C Darrin Hulsey, Peter C Wainwright, and Thomas J Near. Molecular and fossil evidence place the origin of cichlid fishes long after Gondwanan rifting. (2013) Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280: 1770

Thomas J. Near, Alex Dornburg, Ron I. Eytan, Benjamin P. Keck, W. Leo Smith, Kristen L. Kuhn, Jon A. Moore, Samantha A. Price, Frank T. Burbrink, Matt Friedman, and Peter C. Wainwright. Phylogeny and tempo of diversification in the superradiation of spiny-rayed fishes. (2013) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 12738-12743

Katriina L. Ilves, Andrea M. Quattrini, Mark W. Westneat, Ron I. Eytan, Gordon W. Chaplin, Heidi Hertler, and John G. Lundberg. Detection of Shifts in Coral Reef Fish Assemblage Structure Over 50 Years at Reefs of New Providence Island, the Bahamas Highlight the Value of the Academy of Natural Sciences' Collections in a Changing World. (2013) Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 162: 61-87

Wainwright, P.C., W.L. Smith, J.S. Sparks, K.L. Tang, L.A. Ferry-Graham, R.I. Eytan, and T.J. Near. The evolution of pharyngognathy:  a phylogenetic and functional appraisal of the pharyngeal jaw key innovation in Labroidei and beyond. (2012) Systematic Biology 61:1001-1027.

Thomas J. Near, Ron I. Eytan, Alex Dornburg, Kristen L. Kuhn, Jon A. Moore, Matthew P. Davis, Peter C. Wainwright, Matt Friedman, and Wm. Leo Smith.  Resolution of ray-finned fish phylogeny and timing of diversification. (2012) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:13698-13703.

Small, S.T.*, Eytan, R.I.*, Bockrath, K.*, Wares, J.P.*. (2012) Evaluation of genetic structure across a freshwater mussel community (genus Elliptio) in the Altamaha River basin. Conservation Genetics 13: 965-975*Denotes equal authorship. 

Ron I. Eytan, Philip A. Hastings, Barbara R. Holland, and Michael E. Hellberg. (2012) Reconciling molecules and morphology: molecular systematics and biogeography of Neotropical blennies (Acanthemblemaria). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 159-173.

Ron I. Eytan and Michael E. Hellberg. (2010) Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal and conceal different demographic histories and population genetic processes in Caribbean reef fishes. Evolution 64:3380-3397.

Qinggang Xue, Michael E. Hellberg, Kevin L. Schey, Naoki Itoh, Ron I. Eytan, Richard K. Cooper, Jerome F. La Peyre. (2010)  Cv-lysozyme 3 suggests an evolutionary pathway from host defense to digestion in the Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 213

Marshall L. Hayes, Ron I. Eytan, Michael E. Hellberg. (2010) High amino acid diversity and positive selection at a putative coral immunity gene (tachylectin-2). BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:150.

Eytan, R.I., Hayes, M., Arbour-Reily, P., Miller, M. and Hellberg, M.E. (2009) Nuclear sequences reveal mid-range isolation of an imperiled deep-water coral population. Molecular Ecology 18: 2375-2389.

G. Serkerkova, P.A. Loomis, B. Changyaleket, L. Zheng, R. Eytan, B. Chen, E. Mugnaini, and J.R. Bartles (2003) Novel espin actin-bundling proteins are localized to Purkinje cell dendritic spines and bind the SH3 adapter protein insulin receptor substrate p53.  Journal of Neuroscience 23(4): 1310-9 

Current Graduate Students

Max Weber

Josh Carter

Megan Sporre

Contact Info

Ron I. Eytan
Assistant Professor
Department of Marine Biology
Phone: +1 (409) 740.4527
Fax: +1 (409) 740.5001

Ocean & Coastal Studies Bldg., Office 254