Research Projects

Coevolutionary Signatures


Evolutionary Rate Covariation (ERC)


Genes that function in a common pathway or complex exihibit signatures of co-evolution. We identify and exploit these signatures to infer new genetic interactions and reveal deeper relationships between entire genetic pathways. To date we have performed genome-wide coevolution studies in yeasts, Drosophila, and mammalian species, in each case providing insight into gene function.

ERC Analysis webserver

Perform custom ERC analyses on any genes through our public webserver.

Active lab members: Zelia Ferreira, Nick Wolfe, Charles Kronk

Co-evolution in the Nuclear Pore Complex


Protein-protein interactions require compensatory evolution.

To experimentally interrogate coevolution, we create genetic incompatibilities through transgenic experiments in baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). By mutating a select few amino acids or substituting an entire protein complex from one species for that of another, we follow the effects of co-evolved amino acid changes (i.e. compensatory changes) via phenotypic and physical interaction assays.

Active lab members: Jen Walker, Brandon Small

Female-Male Co-evolution in Lepidoptera


Reproductive proteins in butterflies mediate a complex relationship between the sexes.

Many studies have established that reproductive proteins are one of the most rapidly evolving protein classes due to positively selected changes. The driving forces behind this selection are thought to involve competition between mates and conflict between the sexes. In collaboration with the Morehouse lab, we are using the the Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae, as a model to interpret the molecular and physiological divergence of both female and male reproductive proteins, as well as their resulting co-evolution.

Active lab members: Camille Meslin

Yeast Mating Proteins and Reproductive Isolation


Yeast proteins involved in sexual reproduction evolve rapidly, just as in multicellular organisms.

Mating system incompatiblities arise quickly between closely related yeast species. We use yeast as a model to reconstruct and interpret the co-evolution of reproductive proteins in the mating pheromone response and in gamete fusion.

Active lab members: Camille Meslin