Research

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I am a genome biologist and population geneticists working on Humans, plants and yeast.  I work with Assoc. Prof. Stephen Leslie at Melbourne Integrative Genomics (MIG), the University of Melbourne, and I am a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University collaborating with Prof. Simon Easteal. Previously, I was a postdoc with Magnus Nordborg at the GMI in Vienna. My prime motivation is to work amongst mutually supportive colleagues on exciting biological questions.

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I work with yeast (S. pombe) and Arabidopsis to understanding the quality and quantity of genetic variation in natural populations. Such a description is a prerequisite to exploring the evolutionary forces that shape the evolutionary history of a species. The 1001 Arabidopsis genomes project (actually 1135 fully sequenced genomes) is one of the best available dataset to ask about genome evolution.

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Variation in genome architecture across the 1001 Arabidopsis genomes:

  • Arabidopsis genomes vary in size by ~40 Mb. What is the basis for this variation and is there evidence for selection upon this “phenotype”?
  • The 180 bp centromeric repeats undergo rapid concerted evolution. What standing variation exists within current populations how is this maintained?

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Recent selective sweeps in Arabidopsis populations

  • We have identified signatures consistent with both global selective sweeps and local adaptation
  • Connecting such signatures to relevant selective agents in the wild is fundamental to understanding selection
  • We have shown that one particularly strong recent sweep has driven a 300 kb translocation to high frequency

Experimental evolution in yeast

  • My recent work suggests that NHEJ activity alters the rate of intron gain and loss
  • I am currently running long-term mutation accumulation in the fission yeast S. pombe to specifically address this issue

Previously, 

My research involved a broad reaching analysis of intron evolution across eukaryotic genomes. In close collaboration with Marlies Dolezal, Liushuai Hua & Eshwar Meduri we made a significant advance in the understanding of intron density evolution and the mechanisms of intron gain and loss.

This work required the manipulation and analysis of the 12 Drosophila genomes (with further analysis in a more diverse set of species), the experimental validation of interesting events, and the formulation and statistical testing of hypotheses.