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

  • 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
  • Transcriptome-based primer design: bank vole MHC class I Although high-throughput sequencing has increasingly been used for genotyping families of co-amplifying genes, its potential to facilitate the initial characterisation of such genes in non-model species has not been explored. In our recent article in Heredity we found that, while de novo transcriptome assembly of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes does not reconstruct sequences of individual alleles, it allows the identification of conserved regions for PCR primer design. Using the newly designed primers, we characterised for the first time MHC class I sequences in an Arvicolinae rodent, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). We showed high allelic diversity and inter-individual variation in the number of expressed loci. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a lack of orthology to ...
    Posted Nov 4, 2016, 4:33 AM by Magdalena Migalska
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