I am interested in understanding how natural populations evolve and adapt at the genomic level. I am particularly interested in the process of adaptation and speciation, through which clusters of individual genotypes become distinct and persist over time. This is the fundamental process that underlies the evolution and diversification of life.
How, when, and why did distinct populations or species split? What are the evolutionary footprints left in their genomes? What is the role of natural selection in shaping the diversity of natural populations and species? When sexual species hybridize and share genetic material, why don’t they eventually collapse into a single species? What are the consequences of the exchanges of genetic material between species, and how often is this process beneficial? These are some of the questions I work on.
I have been working on a broad range of organisms during my career, from marine mammals to plant pathogens, and mosquitoes. Since 2012, my research interest has focused increasingly towards the diverse and highly adaptable Anopheles mosquitoes, well known as vectors of the deadly Plasmodium parasites responsible of malaria. Most anopheles species are complex of closely related species including races with distinct ecology (“ecotypes”) that hybridize in the wild.
My overall goal is to improve our understanding of speciation and adaptation by testing hypotheses about the mechanics of these processes. By better understanding the pattern of diversity, introgression, and adaptation, my work also contributes to design and assess the feasibility and impacts of new vector control strategies. I use genome sequencing of natural populations combined with both descriptive and model-based computational approaches, most of which are rooted in population-genetic theory. I am interested in developing creative ways of working with genomic data, so that we can get the most out of this tremendous resource.