Evolution is driven by natural selection acting on phenotypic variation. The phenotype of an organism is in turn determined by underlying differences in the DNA sequence and how its genes are epigenetically regulated. We know that gene regulatory systems vary greatly across phyla (e.g. mammals, zebrafish, insects, and nematodes) and that variation in gene regulation can influence or even drive evolution. We work to understand how gene regulation evolves by studying how genetic and epigenetic variation gives rise to phenotypic variation over ecological and evolutionary time scales. This includes studying ancient human genomes, human cell cultures, C. elegans and new model systems such as social insects (ants).
Keywords: regulatory element, transcription factor, non-coding RNA, transposon, DNA methylation, histone modification, evolutionary conservation, human evolution, adaptation
Key techniques used: Next-generation sequencing (DNA and RNA-seq, ATAC-seq), ancient DNA analysis, RNA interference, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), bioinformatics, proteomics, genome editing (CRISPR-CAS9)