We study the evolutionary genetics of sex, death, and disease



Sex differences in the intensity of infection are universal. One sex is often described as the “sicker sex”, with females typically more susceptible to infection in invertebrates, versus males in mammals and birds. We aim to understand how such differences have evolved and the consequences they have for the epidemiology and evolution of disease.



The edge of an invading population coincides with low population density and high resource availability. These altered conditions cause rapid evolution, leading to modified dispersal and in the case of a pathogen, altered virulence. We are exploring infectious disease in light of the altered demographic dynamics that occur in vanguard populations.

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Global change has been linked to the increased occurrence of diseases, but any change in the severity or occurrence of disease will depend on the form of climate change and specifics of the host-pathogen system. We seek to identity the condition that lead to pathogens or hosts becoming evolutionary winners or losers under various types of environmental change.

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Recent news


Multiple fully-funded PhD positions are available to work in our group on themes broadly related to evolutionary ecology and health. Using species of Daphnia and their associated pathogens as powerful experimental model, the successful candidates will work closely with Matt and his collaborators to develop projects that explore how global change and infectious disease interact to influence population persistence; the role of males and females in the evolution of pathogen virulence; and, how invasion fronts can accelerate or hamper the spread of infectious disease (or suggest another).

At least four years ago I starting working on this while in the lab of Dieter Ebert. A move back home, staring a lab from scratch, and some life distractions, pushed out working on the final draft for a long time. Now it is out. Motivated by much of the work done in Dieters lab by the likes of Frida Ben-ami, David Duneau, and Pepijn Luijckx, this review explores how the organisation of the infection process itself may modify the evolution of disease. Here are some musing on the paper....

After much construction and planning (and some delays), we have finally moved into our new lab space at Monash University. The work area is also part of a larger shared lab space. Our new lab mates are now the groups of Kay Hodgins (ecological genomics, zoology.ubc.ca/~hodgins/people.html) and Beth McGraw (vector biology, vectorbiologygroup.com). Photos within...

We will soon be seeking a dedicated and ambitious Research Assistant to work on Daphnia evolutionary ecology. The applicant will work on a variety of projects linked to the evolution of complex traits such as life-history, ageing or infectious disease susceptibility. A formal advertisement will follow shortly, but the start date will be early 2015.