Population and Quantitative Genetics

The Population and Quantitative Genetics Group investigate the causes and consequences of genetic variation in natural populations. A broad range of statistical techniques such as Genome-Wide Association and Genomic Selection methods are used to explore the pattern and effect of molecular variation at the whole genome level. Biological models of interest include humans, plants and insects with an emphasis on biological questions related to human health and agriculture.

Our Academics

  • Professor David Balding - Statistical Genomics

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  • Professor Karen Day - Malaria Research

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    Karen Day runs a malaria research group studying the role that human variation and parasite diversity play in modulating the dynamics of chronic infection, in influencing susceptibility to disease and in regulating transmission from human to mosquito. She is also interested in the ability of malaria parasites to sense their environment by quorum sensing mechanisms to regulate the density of multiple Plasmodium spp infections as well as to initiate the production of transmission stages (gametocytes). The group combines genomics, computational biology and molecular epidemiology approaches to population-based studies of malaria to better improve disease control.

    Key Interests: Parasitology, malaria, genetic epidemiology, microbial genomics, transmission, quorum sensing, gametocytes, antigenic variation.

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  • Dr Alexandre Fournier-Level - Adaptive Evolution
  • Professor Ary Hoffman - Pest and Environmental Adaptation

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  • Associate Professor Stephen Leslie

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    Dr Leslie's work covers several aspects of statistical and population genetics. His main interests are in both applying mainstream statistical developments to genetics, and in developing new statistical methods motivated by problems arising in genetics. In particular, Dr Leslie works on developing statistical methods for the analysis of modern genetic and genomic data sets, with a particular focus on understanding the role of genetics in human diseases.

    Within this broad field he has two main interests. The first is developing statistical methods to type immune system genes (e.g. HLA) using SNP and other data. This enables high-throughput, accurate and inexpensive typing of the alleles of these genes, meaning that these can be incorporated in large cohort studies to understand the role of HLA and other genes in disease susceptibility. In this context he is also interested in methods for incorporating imputed alleles into disease studies, properly accounting for uncertainty in imputation. The second interest is in detecting and understanding population structure, and accounting for this in studies of disease and other phenotypes. A key aspect of his work is providing software tools for other researchers to use.

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  • Dr Charles Robin - Insect population genetics and molecular evolution

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    We are interested in the genetic basis of adaptation and the molecular evolutionary processes that are associated with it. A major interest is the ways in which insects evolve to become resistant to insecticides. We identify putative resistance genes using Genome Wide Association Studies, we assess whether these genes have contributed to field resistance by looking for signs of 'selective sweeps' in population samples, and obtain a mechanistic understanding of their function using various genetic manipulation techniques. We also use comparative genomic and transcriptomic approaches to (i) examine the gene families that are involved in detoxification of foreign compounds (including, but not limited to, insecticides) (ii) understand the divergence of key developmental pathways in insects and (iii) identify protein targets for novel insecticides. Much of our work is with the model insect Drosophila melanogaster, but we also work with moths, beetles and aphids with the objective of developing better insect control methods.

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