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I am an evolutionary biologist and I am investigating the interaction between the mitochondrial and the nuclear genome. A fine-tuned interplay between the two genomes is of great importance as already small mismatches can lead to severe diseases and phenotypic abnormities. To learn which genes in the mitochondrial and/or the nuclear genome are responsible for the disease or phenotypic abnormity I use flies (D. melanogaster) with specific combinations of the two genomes. By investigating the effects of the specific combinations, and how they differ between the combination I can identify candidate genes that may be the trigger for the diseases. With detailed knowledge about the genes that cause the diseases it will be possible to develop therapies or cures for these diseases.
As evolutionary biologist I am also interested in reproductive success of individuals, as it is one of the major fitness components. Differences in reproductive success can be based on many factors and vary between the sexes. The main focus of in this field of research is on male reproductive success, but I am also measuring female components. I use flies (D. melanogaster) to assess genetic and environmental effects on reproductive success.
Reproductive Isolation and Speciation
When the reproductive success of crosses between populations declines this may indicate that some sort of reproductive isolation between the populations started to arise. When this decline is of genetic origin, the two populations are on the verge of speciation. By comparing the reproductive success of crosses of flies (D. melanogaster) from different populations I can assess whether there is reproductive isolation and investigate the underlying mechanisms in more detail.