Special issue on Supergenes HERE
Supergenes - Dynamic structural variants in action
The goal of my research is to understand the evolution of supergenes (tightly linked combinations of alleles segregating in natural populations), by coupling empirical and theoretical approaches. It is now clear that supergenes contribute to adaptation in a wide range of taxa and that their special properties often come from structural variants (e.g., inversions, fusions, etc.).
To understand how supergenes evolve, I use the seaweed fly (Coelopa frigida), which has a large supergene that is under both natural and sexual selection. My research incorporates forward simulations, population genomic techniques, and field and laboratory experiments to fill this gap in our knowledge and push forward our current knowledge on the evolution of supergenes and structural variants in natural populations and their role in adaptation and genome evolution.
A second research focus is the ecological genomics of the wrackbed environment where C. frigida lives. Unlike most other ecosystems, beaches have little to no primary productivity. Instead, deposited organic matter, such as algae and carrion, forms the basis of the sandy beach ecosystem. The processing of this material, primarily by bacteria, drives the wrackbed ecosystem. The degradation of the algae supports a diverse invertebrate community and allows nutrients to be leached back into the sea (reviewed in Hyndes, Berdan, et al., in review). I concentrate on the microbial community of the wrackbed and C. frigida's interactions with it.
Past work focuses on speciation and sexual selection in fish, crickets, and more.