We are interested in dissecting the genetic basis of adaptive traits in natural populations. The Mundy group, based in the Department of Zoology, work on vertebrates – mainly primates and birds – and study a diverse range of traits from pigmentation to brain size evolution. In particular the evolution of genes in the melanin pathway such as MC1R and Agouti have provided some of the best examples of molecular adaptation in natural populations.
Chris Jiggins’ group, also in Zoology, work on insects, studying traits including butterfly wing patterns and insecticide resistance in crop pests. Butterfly mimicry in particular provides an elegant system for studying the repeatability of evolution, whereby multiple lineages have converged on very similar phenotypes.
Toomas Kivisild’s group, based in the Henry Wellcome Building, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, study the genetic history of human populations in the Old and New Worlds. A substantial part of this work is based on comparisons of genome sequence data drawn from living individuals and ancient DNA from human remains taken from archaeological context. A principle focus is on genome-wide evidence of selection in human populations. They use tests of positive and purifying selection to study the effect of extremes of environmental conditions (cold and high altitude) as well as differences in diet and life style on human genetic variation.