Our research focuses on two inter-related areas: sexual selection and the nature of genetic variance in natural populations.
Sexual preferences for elaborate sexual displays and ornaments are thought to evolve because they benefit the choosing sex (usually females) genetically. For the genetic benefits to be possible there must be additive genetic variation (VA) for sexual ornaments, such that highly ornamented individuals can pass fitter genes on to the progeny of choosy individuals.

Mutations and genes interacting with parasites, such as genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are important sources of genetic variation for fitness, and are therefore an important focus of our research.
Sexual selection can also affect the amount of genetic variance in natural populations, for example by purging deleterious mutations from populations, which can decrease the cost of sexual reproduction and decrease the risk of population extinction. However, sexual selection also leads to divergent selection on sexes, which can increase sexually antagonistic genetic variation within populations.

Sexual selection often leads to the maintenance of alternative reproductive phenotypes (ARPs) within sexes. Evolution of ARPs, including its genetic aspects, is another area of our research.

Currently, our main study species include acarid mites, guppies and bank voles. See our current projects for more details.

News & jobs

  • Novel MHC alleles give their guppy hosts advantage in dealing with ectoparasites In our recent article "Immunogenetic novelty confers a selective advantage in host–pathogen coevolution" published in PNAS, we demonstrate that MHC alleles to which Gyrodactylus flukes had no opportunity to adapt are associated with less severe infection in hosts. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is one of the most polymorphic gene families in the vertebrate genome, with natural selection actively promoting and maintaining variability. The exact mechanism/mechanisms responsible for these characteristics remain unclear, but identifying them is fundamental to our understanding of host–pathogen dynamics. Using targeted crosses of the model Trinidadian guppy, a tractable parasite, and exposure-controlled infection trials, we show that novel MHC variants are associated with less severe infections. Uniquely, our experimental design separates novel ...
    Posted Jan 18, 2018, 2:51 AM by Jacek Radwan
  • New grants and stipends for our team members! Recently we received some grants and stipends! PRELUDIUM is a National Science Center’s opportunity intended for pre-doctoral researchers about to embark on their scientific career. We are happy to announce that Aleksandra Łukasiewicz from our team received this grant for the project entitled Environmental quality and intensity of sexual conflict. The project aim to test the assumption that the low-quality food during development should reduce intensity of sexual conflict. Ola with her project was first in the ranking in the environmental biology & evolution panel (NZ8)! Congratulations Ola! Here you can find out more about the project. START is a stipend from Foundation for Polish Sciences that is dedicated to young researchers, at the outset of their career ...
    Posted May 16, 2017, 7:06 AM by Piotr Bentkowski
  • Kin selection promotes female productivity and cooperation between the sexes Hamilton’s theory of kin selection explains the evolution of costly traits that benefit other individuals by highlighting the fact that passing genes to offspring is not the only way of increasing the representation of those genes in subsequent generations: Genes are also shared with other classes of relatives. Consequently, any heritable trait that affects fitness of relatives should respond to kin selection. In the article just published in Science Advances we tested this core prediction of kin selection theory by letting bulb mites (Rhizoglyphus robini) evolve in populations structured into groups of relatives or nonrelatives during the reproductive phase of the life cycle. In accordance with predictions derived from kin selection theory, we found that evolution in groups of ...
    Posted May 16, 2017, 7:05 AM by Piotr Bentkowski
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