Genomic analysis of adaptation to environmental change

Theme: Evolution & Adaptation

Primary Supervisor:

Richard Nichols

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL

Richard Nichols's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Richard Buggs

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL

Richard Buggs's Profile Picture

Project Description:

It might seem relatively simple to identify the key genomic changes in a threatened species, as they responded to the arrival of pathogens or to the change in climate – because modern genomic information is so comprehensive, and the current challenges to endangered species are so severe (imposing strong selection).

However, the huge amount of genomic data that we can now obtain, proves to be a mixed blessing. Many of the changes in the genome are the result of blind chance – producing changes through time, and from one population to another. These differences can be readily confused with the key changes underlying adaptive evolution.

This project will develop methods to differentiate between these two types of pattern, making use of existing datasets from surveys conducted for conservation and agricultural projects.

It will suit a student from a biological background with an interest in mathematical modelling and statistics, or from a more quantitative background with an interest in genomic data.

Policy Impact of Research:

The project will produce methods that will be released as statistical packages that can be applied to survey species of conservation interest, and help inform management decisions including the selection of populations to be sources for reintroduction or human mediated gene flow.

A second applied area is the identification of populations and individuals of exceptional value, for use in projects to bolster food security.


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