Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics

We combine cytogenetic and genomic approaches to study a role of genome organization and its changes in evolution. Particularly, we have been investigating:

Role of chromosome rearrangements in evolution
Closely related species usually differ in their karyotypes, i.e. their chromosome number and morphology, which suggests that chromosome changes play a role in formation of new species. Indeed, new theoretical models postulate that changes in genome architecture alter recombination rates and thus can contribute to local adaptation and speciation. Yet evidence supporting the theory is still scarce. We focus mainly (but not only) on moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) representing a less constrained model system due to their holocentric chromosomes, which  facilitate chromosome rearrangements by alleviating fitness costs associated with formation of dicentric and acentric chromosomes. We also study modifications of lepidopteran meiosis imposed by the holocentricity of their chromomosomes.

Evolution of lepidopteran (neo-)sex chromosomes
Lepidoptera represent the largest group of organisms with a female heterogametic sex determination system (♀Z0/♂ZZ or ♀WZ/♂ZZ constitution) and an excellent model system for sex chromosome research. First, cytogenetic analyses and detailed comparison of sex-linked genes in early diverging non-ditrysian and ditrysian lineages suggest multiple and non-canonical origin of a W chromosome, which probably evolved via adoption of a B chromosome. Second, unlike in other taxa with female heterogamety, sex chromosome-autosome fusions resulting in so-called neo-sex chromosomes are common in Lepidoptera. We are interested in evolutionary drivers of the sex chromosome turnover and a role of neo-sex chromosomes in diversification of moth and butterflies. 


Biology Centre CAS
Institute of Entomology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice

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