Research in the Evans lab explores genome evolution, speciation, and biodiversity. We are broadly interested in the phenomena of duplicate gene evolution, the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determination, and the role of social systems in genome evolution.
We deploy a combination of approaches including field collection of genetic material, laboratory analyses, and bioinformatics. We tend to explore species in their natural habitat, and recent projects have focused on amphibians such as African clawed frogs (Xenopus and Silurana) and fanged frogs (Limnonectes), and macaque monkeys (Macaca). We also perform simulations to mimic genomic phenomena in the real world.
As a part of these projects, we are sequencing the genome of a tetraploid frog that originated through the fusion of the genomes of two separate species (by allopolyploidization). This project, along with transcriptome analyses, promises to illuminate how each half (each subgenome) of a polyploid genome interacts with the other, and how phenomena such as gene silencing and transposable element mobility changes after genome duplication. Other projects aim to identify the sex determining gene of various frog species, and to better understand the interplay between gene duplication and concerted evolution on primate Y chromosomes. We also recently initiated a project on genome expansion in viscacha rats – you can learn more about this project in this video:
We are also actively engaged in understanding and describing species diversity, focusing in particular on amphibian biodiversity and the considerable threats that it faces. To this end we are describing new species that we discover, and evaluating patterns of population structure, genetic exchange, and evolutionary relationships among various frogs in Africa and Southeast Asia.
*** The Evans lab is looking for highly motivated graduate students to join the lab; please contact Ben if you are interested ***