People in the Computational and Molecular Population Genetics (CMPG) lab use molecular techniques, theoretical developments, and computer simulations to reconstruct the demographic history of populations and species from genetic data, and to test between alternative evolutionary scenarios.
We explore the genomic diversity of voles and humans in order to discover which genes have recently responded to selection, for instance to adapt to new environments.
We are also interested in quantifying the effect of range expansions and colonisation processes on genetic diversity, since these demographic events can lead to molecular signatures resembling those of selection.
We also develop and maintain computer programs to study and simulate the genetic diversity of populations, infer demographic parameters under complex scenarios, and detect loci under selection from genome scan.
The CMPG lab is affiliated to the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics.
Geography uncovers ancient origins of RNA viruses
A new study conducted by Moritz Saxenhofer and Gerald Heckel shows that the time scales of virus evolutionary histories might be severely underestimated by state-of-the-art methods commonly used to date pathogen emergence. They included information about the geographic origin of virus samples to improve the age estimates for two European hantaviruses indicating that these are at least ten to a hundred times older than previously inferred based on sequence data alone. The results published with colleagues in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B provide valuable insights to better understand pathogen evolution and disease emergence.