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Molecular Ecology & Evolution

The Molecular Ecology and Evolution research area is among the largest in the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. A central part of our work is the application of molecular markers such as microsatellites, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sequence data (454 Roche and Sanger) to fundamental evolutionary and ecological questions relating to the origins, levels, distribution and ecological significance of genetic variation in wild, captive and exploited populations. In addition to the focus on neutral markers, facilities and expertise are expanding on the functional analysis of genomes, including application of transcriptomics and Real-Time PCR.

  • Evolutionary biology and phylogenetics of fish
  • Discovery and monitoring of species and community diversity using DNA barcoding and metagenetic approaches
  • Population structure, genetic diversity and adaptation to changing environments, especially fish and large mammals
  • Traceability and forensics, especially in relation to wildlife conservation and exploited fish
  • Causes and biology of the late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions.
  • Paleogenetics and paleogenomics.
  • Development and application of next generation sequencing protocols for sequencing highly degraded DNA.
  • Investigation of the functional genomic basis of environmental niche adaptation
  • Venom evolution: understanding the origin and evolution of venoms; evolutionary drivers of venom composition and underlying genetic mechanisms, relevance to snakebite treatment
  • Speciation, natural selection, phylogeny, hybridization and other aspects of evolution in squamates, particularly island lizards, including both natural and invasive species
  • Biogeography and systematics of venomous snakes and other reptiles, species delimitation
  • Invasion genetics
  • Honeybee health and population genetics
  • Ecology of mites and forensic acarology
  • Host-symbiont evolution
  • Developing improved methods for quantifying the diversity and abundance microbial taxa in the environment.
  • Molecular microbial ecology of natural and managed environments.