I am an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Hull, UK. My lab uses phylogenetic and bioinformatic approaches to better understand genomes, evolutionary processes, and biodiversity.
A main interest of my lab is in the processes that determine genome content, structure and change. To what extent do the primary forces of evolution (recombination, effective population size, mutation and natural selection) cause differences in genome content between different taxa and lineages of life. I explore these topics by comparative phylogenetic analysis of [...]
Most of my research projects involve evolutionary analysis of DNA sequence data, from phylogenetics to comparative genomics. Although phylogenetic approaches are widespread in many areas of biology they are largely underused for very large-scale sequence datasets and the analysis of genome-scale data.
How do recombination and reproductive mode determine genome content and architecture? We are carrying a large NERC-funded comparative genomics project to sequence nematode genomes with multiple independent losses of meiosis.
Much of my research takes a phylogenetic approach to biological questions. I am especially interested in very large scale analyses and tools to automate the path from sequences to annotated trees in a reproducible way. The image is Darwin’s first evolutionary tree from his 1837 notebook.
We are applying sensitive DNA barcoding approaches to understand host parasitoid interactions in agricultural systems. We are now able to screen the host species of parasitoid wasps (e.g. aphids) for the presence of parasitoid DNA using rapid PCR techniques. These studies allow a different way to understand both food webs and natural control of agricultural [...]
The enormous quantities of genomic data now available permit us to powerfully test hypothese of molecular evolution. Perhaps because of the amount of data available comparative analysis of whole genomes is also challenging.We have developed a range of bioinformatic pipelines to facilitate our studies and are taking comparative phylogenetic approach to understanding genome content [...]
Root Knot Nematodes of the genus Meloidogyne are some of the world’s most important crop pathogens. The genus contains a wide range of reproductive modes, with repeated transitions between them. This raises interesting possibilities to investigate the genomic consequences of the loss of meiotic recombination. I recently showed using DNA sequencing that several mitotic parthenogen [...]
We are studying gene copy number variation (CNV) in adaptive radiations of cichlids. A fundamental question in biology is what type of genomic changes underlie local adaptation and species radiations. Cichlid fish radiations in the African Great Lakes show extraordinary levels of speciation and ecological diversification compared to their close riverine relatives. Despite a [...]