Michael Jardine

Michael Jardine

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Michael Jardine

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Start Year

2017 (Cohort 4)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

The genetics and evolution of sexual antagonism

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



The reproductive roles of males and females generate divergent selection pressures on the two sexes. However, evolutionary responses are constrained by the shared genome. Populations therefore often harbour ‘sexually antagonistic’ genetic variation, where segregating alleles have opposing fitness effects on males and females. While antagonistic variation has been documented in a wide range of species, almost nothing had been known about the genetic loci at which antagonism occurs, the timescales over which antagonism persists and the mechanisms by which it is resolved.

Using genome-wide approaches in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, we have recently been able to identify antagonistic loci for the first time. We are therefore now in a position to shed light on the functional basis and evolutionary dynamics of antagonistic genetic variation. To do so, we are pursuing several avenues of research. We combine fly genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics to verify our candidates and get a better understanding of the genes and pathways that underlie antagonism. In parallel, we use comparative approaches across populations of D. melanogaster and across other Drosophila species to make inferences about the rate at which antagonism arises and is resolved, as well as the mechanisms that contribute to such resolution.

Due to the many possible directions of research that are open to us, we are happy to design a PhD project to suit the skills and ambitions of the student.

Policy Impact

We are doing basic research within the NERC remit. Our results have no immediate policy impact. However, our work may have translational value in the future, sue to the relevance of sexual antagonism to the maintenance of sex-specific disease alleles.

Background Reading
  • J. M. Collet, S. Fuentes, J. Hesketh, M. S. Hill, P. Innocenti, E. H. Morrow, K. Fowler and M. Reuter (2016). Rapid evolution of the inter-sexual genetic correlation for fitness in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 70:781-795.
  • R. Bonduriansky and S. Chenoweth (1009). Intralocus sexual conflict. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24:280-288.
  • C. Mullon, A. Pomiankowski and M. Reuter (2012). The effects of selection and genetic drift on the genomic distribution of sexually antagonistic alleles. Evolution 12:3743-3753.
  • Publications



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