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Associated Faculty

Neda Barghi

Institute of Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna

publications

Research area

Neda Barghi is an evolutionary biologist focusing on the genomics of complex adaptive traits. She is specifically interested in the genomic signatures of adaptive evolution in response to biotic and abiotic environmental changes. She uses an array of tools from Pool-Seq time-series data, molecular and phenotypic assays, and computer simulations to investigate the genetic basis of adaptation in experimental evolution populations of Drosophila

Marlies Dolezal

Institute of Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna

publications

Research area

Marlies Dolezal is a quantitative geneticist and animal breeder. She has mapped QTLs using pedigree based and whole genome association analysis for a variety of production and fitness traits in livestock populations. Methodological work included the development of a new mapping technique for selective DNA pooling and combining population and quantitative genomics approaches to increase mapping power. Recent work has focussed on identifying and genetically characterizing copy number variants in cattle and pig populations.

Carolin Kosiol

Group Leader, Vetmeduni Vienna
and University of St. Andrews (UK)

publications

Research area

Carolin Kosiol's main interest is the development of new statistical methods of sequence evolution. During her PhD at the European Bioinformatics Institute she developed a tool to identify amino acid groupings from substitution models and she estimated a first empirical codon substitution model to improve the understanding of the patterns and pressures of protein evolution. Codon models are widely used to study natural selection between different species and to identify functional elements in genome-wide scans. During the last two years as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University she has contributed to several inter- and intra-species scans of selection.

Sylvain Mousset

Faculty of Mathematics, University of Vienna

publications

Research area

Sylvain Mousset is a population geneticist with a general interest for statistical methods and theoretical models in evolutionary biology. His work has especially focussed on the detection of departure from neutrality in DNA polymorphism data, and disentangling the effects of selection from other evolutionary forces, such as demography or biased gene conversion. He recently got interest in the evolution of sex, sex chromosomes, and species diversification. He has shown that the apparent lack of diversity in dioecious plants may simply result of a statistical bias, and wants to develop further models of species diversification including inputs of population genetics theory.

Kristan Schneider

Professor, Hochschule Mittweida

Former Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Vienna

publications

Research area

Kristan Schneider studies theoretical models for anti-malarial drug resistance, the most severe threat to malaria control and eradication efforts. By combining population dynamical with population genetic approaches he develops models for genetic hitchhiking, which are directly applicable to molecular data (microsatellite or SNP data). By this approach it is possible to reconstruct the evolutionary dynamics of drug-resistance associated mutations, even in the absence of reliable clinical or epidemiological data. This is the key to understand the evolution of drug resistance and guarantee successful malaria control/eradication. For Kristan research data analysis is equally important as mathematical modeling.
Furthermore, Kristan studies models of frequency-dependent selection, a form of selection in which the fitnesses of individuals (probability to survive from birth to age of reproduction) depend on the population’s composition. This form of selection arises naturally in many ecological scenarios. Kristan is interested in general properties of frequency-dependent selection as well as in applications to theoretical ecology and speciation.

Kirsten Senti

Group Leader at Institute of Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna

publications

Research area

Kirsten-André Senti studies the ancient conflict between Transposable Elements (TEs) and their hosts. Most organisms sequenced to date harbor a substantial load of TE insertions in their genomes. In turn, TE invasions have triggered the evolution of host defenses against them. The main host defense in animals is the piRNA pathway that utilizes the PIWI clade of Argonaute proteins that are expressed in gonads. PIWI proteins are loaded with PIWI interacting RNAs (piRNAs), which guide the PIWI proteins by homology dependent basepairing to active TE transcripts to suppress them. piRNAs originate from precursor transcripts of specialized genomic loci, termed piRNAs clusters, that represent the host’s sequence archives of previous TE invasions.

The recent analysis of the piRNA pathway has unravelled the molecular mechanisms of host defense to a large extent, but has also provided novel insights into the biology of active TEs. Yet in the evolutionary arms race between TEs and host control, many questions remain open.

We use modern functional genetics, next generation sequencing and imaging techniques in Drosophila to tackle the following two questions:

- How does the piRNA pathway adapt to silence novel TE invasions?
- How do TEs adapt to the host biology to maximize their replication?

Kelly Swarts

Group Leader at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (Univ. of Vienna)

publications

Research area

Kelly Swarts is a quantitative and computational geneticist focusing on understanding the genetic basis of complex traits using modern and ancient populations. Much of her past work has focused on understanding temperate adaptation in maize, including predicting flowering in 2,000 year old archaeological maize. Her program in Vienna uses similar approaches to understand adaptation in conifers in light of climate change. While not focused on tool development, her group generates computational tools as needed to solve biological questions.

Irene Tiemann-Boege

Associate Professor, Institute of Biophysics, Johannes Kepler University Linz

publications

Research area

Irene Tiemann-Boege's main interest is to study how recombination and mutation are shaping the evolution of the genome. Throughout her career she has developed highly sensitive technologies  to accurately characterize recombination and mutation processes, including a technology similar to next generation sequencing capable of analyzing in parallel millions of single molecules. With her expertise she contributed with experimental data to areas such as the paternal age-effect and recombination hotspots. Currently, she is working in the relationship between recombination and mutation and the role of  recombination hotspots in the evolution of certain gene classes.

Qi Zhou

Professor, Life Science Institute, Zhejiang University
and Group Leader at Department of Molecular Evolution and Development, University of Vienna

publications

Research area

Qi Zhou is interested at using the cutting-edge sequencing technology and functional approaches to study evolution of animal sex chromosomes. His studied species include the classic genetic model Drosophila, as well as birds, snakes and turtles. The major questions that he has been working to answer include: How do different animal species determine their sex, and what are the transitional mechanisms between these different sex systems? How do the sex-determining chromosomes evolve in their genomic sequence and epigenomic regulation? What are the roles of small RNAs during the sex chromosome evolution? These questions are at the interface of evolution, development and molecular biology. On one hand, he harnesses classic Drosophila model species for deep functional characterization of sex-specific genes, while studying other non-cononical models reveals general principles of sex chromosome evolution across different species.  He has uncovered that genes experience rapid functional degeneration and masculinization on the Drosophila Y chromosome of recent ages. He has also reconstructed a fine history of recombination loss between bird Z and W sex chromosomes, based on analyses of 50 avian genomes.

Alumni

Alex Kalinka

Former Group Leader at Institute of Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna

Research area

Arndt von Haeseler has long standing research interest in understanding the theoretical foundations of molecular evolution. He puts special emphasis on modeling the evolutionary process on different levels of complexities. Besides modeling evolution he also uses evolutionary models to infer the past from data provided by contemporary organisms. To achieve these goals he applies methodological tools from Mathematics and Computer Sciences. Moreover, his group is involved in the development of bioinformatics platforms to handle large amount of data.

Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
vetmed uni vienna
Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology
Universität Wien