I am currently researching the evolution of a selfish genetic element. Such elements (genes, for example) increase their own fitness, but – in contrast to "normal" elements – not the fitness of their "host". To understand this relationship, it is important to take the organism's and the element's perspective. I am focussed on one particular selfish element in house mice, the t haplotype. The chromosome that carries this element is transmitted to the next generation more often than usual (> 50%). At the same time, it has negative fitness effects on the mouse that carries it: the sperm are less mobile and carrying the element on both chromosomes is lethal (such a mouse will not be born). Therefore, the fitness of this element is very limited under some circumstances and very high under others. Furthermore, this element is rather old (two million years), present around the globe, and spans half a chromosome in size. This makes for a fascinating study system for evolutionary questions: What traits were selected in the element? How did it survive for so long? What genes are affected and how do they differ from "normal" mice?
Research group: Evolution and Genetics of Social Behaviour
Prospective thesis: “Evolution and Behavioural Consequences of a Selfish Genetic Element in House Mice”
Topics: Selfish genetic elements; Intragenomic conflict; Evolution of behaviour
Methods: Behavioural experiments; Long-term data analysis; Genome-wide association studies; Next generation sequencing; Agent-based models
Additionally: Supervision and co-supervision of multiple students, co-organisation of the Zurich Interaction Seminar, & teaching assistance
Financed by Swiss National Science Foundation
Additional grants: SNF Doc.Mobility stipend; URPP Pilot Project grant; Claraz Foundation grant
Details upon request.
Configuration and maintenance of contents of the online start-up simply local: SQL; requirements management; concepts of backend tools; troubleshooting; training; managing student workers.
Developmental, Neural, and Behavioural Biology Specialisation: Behavioural Biology
Master’s Thesis: "Intergroup Relationships and Home Range Use in Redfronted Lemurs" with a financial grant of the Ethological Society and conducted using field work in Kirindy forest, Madagascar
Bachelor’s Thesis: "Effects of probability-based punishment of uncooperative behaviour in public goods games"