Genomic Signatures of Population Bottlenecks

Genomic Signatures of Population Bottlenecks

We focus our research on how population bottlenecks impact the genetic makeup of populations. The key to understand consequences of bottlenecks is to quantify the relative strength of selection and genetic drift. We are particularly interested in the evolution of mutation load due to purging and relaxed selection as well as patterns of gene flow along the genome.

Alpine ibex are an excellent model to investigate the population genomic consequences of profound bottlenecks. As a consequence of centuries-long strong hunting pressure, Alpine ibex nearly went extinct at the beginning of the 19th century, but recovered thanks to a very successful reintroduction program.

We combine ancient, historic and modern samples spanning a period of more than 8000 years to investigate the consequences of near extinction on the genomic makeup of a species. For this, we take advantage of various genomic tools, including whole-genome sequencing.

Head of Group: Dr. Christine Grossen

Research Themes:

  • Evolution of deleterious mutation load
  • Genome-wide patterns of gene flow among species
  • Hybridization as a source of evolutionary novelty and a threat to endangered species
  • Ancient population genomics