Please refer to https://www.evolbio.mpg.de/2996577/group_molsysevolution and contact Julien for further information on the project: email@example.com
Adaptation in complex systems
"What constraints or favours the occurrence of adaptive mutations?" is a question of fundamental interest with important applications, such as predicting evolving resistance alleles in pathogens or rescuing populations on the verge of extinction. In this doctoral project, we will more specifically study how adaptation occurs in the presence of genetic interactions. Because genes encode macromolecules with complex structures, themselves parts of interaction networks ultimately responsible for the phenotype of an individual, the fitness effect of a mutation at a given position in the genome depends on the alleles present at other positions, a phenomenon called epistasis. How epistasis impacts the course of gene evolution during an adaptive walk is the question we will try to answer.
To do so, we will use computational approaches such as phylogenetic sequence comparative analysis and population genomics. We will gather datasets from public genome databases and apply statistical inference models to infer evolutionary properties of the genomes, such as the history of substitutions in gene families and the rate of adaptive substitutions in populations. These empirical approaches will be further complemented with in silico evolution experiments, allowing us to finely control the fitness landscape and test hypotheses about its impact on adaptive processes.
Applicants should ideally have a background in evolutionary genetics and computational biology. Envisaged starting date is September 1, 2023 (negotiable).
Recent publications by the group relevant to the project:
- Moutinho AF, Eyre-Walker A, Dutheil JY (2022) Strong evidence for the adaptive walk model of gene evolution in Drosophila and Arabidopsis. PLoS Biol 20(9): e3001775. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001775
- Chaurasia S, Dutheil JY (2022) The Structural Determinants of Intra-Protein Compensatory Substitutions, Molecular Biology and Evolution 39(4): msac063. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msac063