I employ evolutionary genomics and bioinformatics to address questions related to human and non-human primate evolution. With respect to human evolution I am most interested in regions of the genome where natural selection has driven differentiation between various human populations (local adaptation), and in how natural selection affects these regions when locally adapted alleles are introduced to new populations through migration and gene flow. With respect to non-human primate evolution my research primarily focuses on the relationship of living primates to now extinct primate taxa known from the fossil record.
June 2015. Fieldwork in Madagascar:
We had a very fun and successful field season in Madagascar. We were collecting genomic and phenotypic data inorder to address questions of population history, mate choice, and natural selection in the Malagasy. Madagascar is a beautiful country with stunning natural beauty, and culturally and biologically diverse peoples.
July 2nd, 2014. New paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
Hodgson JA, Pickrell JK, Pearson LN, Quillen EE, Prista A, Rocha J, Soodyall H, Shriver MD, & Perry GH. 2014. Natural selection for the Duffy-null allele in the recently admixed people of Madagascar. Proc R Soc B 281(1789): online
Sub-Saharan Africans and East Asians settled Madagascar, and both were present there by at least a thousand years ago. The East Asian settlers were susceptible to Plasmodium vivax - the parasite that causes vivax malaria – and brought this with them. The African settlers had a genetic variant that provides immunity to vivax malaria. When the populations first mixed only about 23% of Malagasy would have been immune to vivax malaria. Since then, natural selection has favored the immunity gene, and the proportion of Malagasy that are immune has increased to 61%.
June 12th, 2014. New paper in PLoS Genetics:
There has been much recent interst in Eurasian admixture found in many of the people living in East Africa. Previous research has attributed this admixture to movements of agricultural populations from Eurasia into Africa around 3,000 years ago. In this paper we provide evidence that much of the gene flow from the Middle East occurred ~20,000 years ago prior to adoption of agriculture in the region.
et al., 2014, Natural selection for the Duffy-null allele in the recently admixed people of Madagascar, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol:281, ISSN:0962-8452, Pages:20140930-20140930
et al., 2014, Early back-to-Africa migration into the Horn of Africa., Plos Genet, Vol:10
et al., 2014, Primate phylogenetic relationships and divergence dates inferred from complete mitochondrial genomes, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol:75, ISSN:1055-7903, Pages:165-183
et al., 2009, Successive radiations, not stasis, in the South American primate fauna., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Vol:106, Pages:5534-5539
et al., 2008, The genetic structure of Pacific Islanders., Plos Genet, Vol:4