Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Professor of Evolutionary Genetics



+44 (0)20 7594 2266a.burt




Silwood ParkSilwood Park






Research Interests

Homing Endonuclease Genes (HEGs).
We have been studying the evolutionary dynamics of these nonMendelian selfish genes, particularly in yeasts.

Population Genetic Engineering.
I am interested in using selfish genetic elements to genetically manipulate natural populations; our first targets are the mosquitoes that transmit malaria.

Population Genomics and Phylogenetics of Yeasts.
The tremendous amount that is known about the biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology of yeasts makes them ideal model systems for addressing questions in evolutionary and population biology.

Molecular Ecology of a Pathogenic Mammal.
Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT) is a sexually transmitted parasitic cell line currently circulating in feral dog populations; we are interested in its origins and how it has adapted to its new way of life.

Selected publications

Windbichler N, Menichelli M, Papathanos PA, Thyme SB, Li H, Ulge UY, Hovde BT, Baker D, Monnat RJ, Burt A, Crisanti A, 2011 A synthetic homing endonuclease-based gene drive system in the human malaria mosquito. Nature 473:212-215 (doi)

Rebbeck CA, Leroi AM, Burt A, 2011 Mitochondrial capture by a transmissible cancer. Science 331:303 (doi)

Tsai IJ, Burt A, Koufopanou V, 2010 Conservation of recombination hotspots in yeast. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107:7847-7852 (doi)

Tsai IJ, Bensasson D, Burt A, Koufopanou V, 2008 Population genomics of the wild yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus: Quantifying the life cycle. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA105 4957-4962 (doi)

Goddard MR, Godfray HC, Burt A, 2005 Sex increases the efficacy of natural selection in experimental yeast populations. Nature 434:636-640 (doi)

Burt A, Koufopanou V, 2004 Homing endonuclease genes: the rise and fall and rise again of a selfish element. Curr Opin Genet Dev 14:609-615 (doi)

Burt A, 2003 Site-specific selfish genes as tools for the control and genetic engineering of natural populations. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 270:921-928 (doi)


Genes in Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements

Austin Burt and Robert Trivers

Genes in Conflict, The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements - Austin Burt, Robert Trivers

Detailed contents [PDF format]
Information @ Harvard University Press website




Beaghton A, Hammond A, Nolan T, et al., 2017, Requirements for Driving Anti-pathogen Effector Genes into Populations of Disease Vectors by Homing., Genetics

Eckhoff PA, Wenger EA, Godfray HCJ, et al., 2017, Impact of mosquito gene drive on malaria elimination in a computational model with explicit spatial and temporal dynamics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:114, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:E255-E264

Beaghton A, Beaghton PJ, Burt A, 2016, Gene drive through a landscape: Reaction-diffusion models of population suppression and elimination by a sex ratio distorter, Theoretical Population Biology, Vol:108, ISSN:0040-5809, Pages:51-69

Davies SK, Leroi A, Burt A, et al., 2016, The mutational structure of metabolism in Caenorhabditis elegans, Evolution, Vol:70, ISSN:0014-3820, Pages:2239-2246

Deredec A, O'Loughlin SM, Hui T-YJ, et al., 2016, Partitioning the contributions of alternative malaria vector species, Malaria Journal, Vol:15, ISSN:1475-2875

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