Institute for Fish and Wildlife Health

Epigenetics & Evolution

Environment -> Epigenetics -> Genetic Evolution

Populations of marine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) have repeatedly colonised freshwater habitats over just a few thousand years, representing an extreme and rapid evolutionary transition. Phenotypic plasticity, possibly mediated by epigenetic responses, has been proposed to have played a role in freshwater colonisation. The system presents a unique opportunity to examine the role of the epigenetic machinery in, and its fate following, colonisation of new habitats.

In this project, we use whole genome sequencing data and epigenome data (DNA methylation) to examine the evolution of epigenetic regulators, the effect of genetic background on epigenetic responses, and the relationship between evolved patterns of DNA methylation and genomic diversity within and across populations.

Project lead: James Ord