- Professor, Dept. of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago
Department of Ecology & Evolution
1101 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773 702 1222
Fax: 773 702 1222
The lab focuses on issues in molecular evolution, and especially on identifying forces governing the evolutionary process. The central effort has been to understand the evolution of the alcohol dehydrogenase locus (Adh) in Drosophila. We are studying the evolutionary process on three different time scales—-affecting populations, affecting species, and affecting long-term molecular evolution. At each scale we are attempting to distinguish whether natural selection contributes to the process, and if so, to identify the type of selection. Our work suggests that natural selection has an important role in shaping patterns of nucleotide polymorphism around the Adh locus and in regulating gene allozyme frequencies in natural populations.
Additional evidence for natural selection comes from a recent study of polymorphism on the fourth chromosome of Drosophila, a chromosome with no recombination. We find very low levels of silent and non-coding variation, suggesting regular occurrences of genetic hitchhiking caused by selective sweeps. We have also been able to show that natural selection is likely to be an important force in long-term protein evolution: there are more amino acid substitutions in Adh across species than can be accounted for by genetic drift alone. Much of the current work in the lab is attempting to test the generality of these findings by studying nucleotide variation within and between species for other loci.
Several projects in the lab involve the application of molecular techniques to evolutionary problems or mechanisms. Research projects I would be interested in supervising include all applications of molecular population genetics to the study of evolutionary mechanisms. I am also interested in the molecular genetics of species differences, especially as it pertains to the genetics of speciation.