Biosciences Graduate Program

Joseph M. Comeron, BS, PhD


Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Information

Office: 212 BB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-628

Web: More About Dr. Comeron - Related Websites and Resources



Post Doctorate, Molecular Evolution, UNIV OF CHICAGO

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Research Summary

"We apply a multidisciplinary approach­combining empirical work to obtain sequence data, large-scale genomic analyses, and the development of computational and theoretical tools­to investigate 1) the evolution of gene composition and structure in eukaryotes, 2) the genetic basis of speciation, 3) the influence of large changes in population size between closely related species, and 4) the evolution of recombination and mutation rates across genomes and among species. Likely, many mutations important to evolution have much smaller selection coefficients than it is practicable to demonstrate in the laboratory. Population genetics and molecular evolution analyses­the study of nucleotide variability within and between species­are powerful tools that allow us to detect the action of selection on naturally-occurring mutations, even if the fitness effects of these mutations are extremely weak. We investigate the influence of selection on amino acid and synonymous changes (i.e. changes influencing synonymous codon usage but not protein sequence) in coding regions, and on small insertion/deletions. We study factors involved in determining the efficacy of selection in eukaryotes. We focus on two major factors: recombination and population size. We study the causes and consequences of changes in recombination rates among species and across genomes. We investigate the influence of population size by studying closely related species that exhibit large differences in population size. We also apply molecular evolution and population genetics techniques to study recent speciation events. In particular, we investigate Drosophila species to gain insight into the evolutionary patterns of genes involved in phenotypic differentiation and reproductive isolation. These same population genetics techniques can be applied to genomic features, allowing us to investigate the forces involved in the evolution of gene number, the origin of introns, the evolution of exon-intron structures, and ultimately genome size. This genomics-meets-population genetics approach (i.e., population genomics) can be implemented with computer simulations mimicking the evolutionary process (in silico evolution), a computationally-intensive technique that provides new and valuable insights into the expected outcome of complex evolutionary processes."

Date Last Modified: 10/09/2015 - 15:23:31