Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Honorary Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 3002m.lawniczak Website




Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

12 results found

Fontaine MC, Pease JB, Steele A, Waterhouse RM, Neafsey DE, Sharakhov IV, Jiang X, Hall AB, Catteruccia F, Kakani E, Mitchell SN, Wu Y-C, Smith HA, Love RR, Lawniczak MK, Slotman MA, Emrich SJ, Hahn MW, Besansky NJet al., 2015, Extensive introgression in a malaria vector species complex revealed by phylogenomics, SCIENCE, Vol: 347, ISSN: 0036-8075

Journal article

Stathopoulos S, Neafsey DE, Lawniczak MKN, Muskavitch MAT, Christophides GKet al., 2014, Genetic dissection of anopheles gambiae Gut epithelial responses to serratia marcescens, PLoS Pathogens, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 1553-7366

Genetic variation in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae profoundly influences its ability to transmit malaria. Mosquito gut bacteria are shown to influence the outcome of infections with Plasmodium parasites and are also thought to exert a strong drive on genetic variation through natural selection; however, a link between antibacterial effects and genetic variation is yet to emerge. Here, we combined SNP genotyping and expression profiling with phenotypic analyses of candidate genes by RNAi-mediated silencing and 454 pyrosequencing to investigate this intricate biological system. We identified 138 An. gambiae genes to be genetically associated with the outcome of Serratia marcescens infection, including the peptidoglycan recognition receptor PGRPLC that triggers activation of the antibacterial IMD/REL2 pathway and the epidermal growth factor receptor EGFR. Silencing of three genes encoding type III fibronectin domain proteins (FN3Ds) increased the Serratia load and altered the gut microbiota composition in favor of Enterobacteriaceae. These data suggest that natural genetic variation in immune-related genes can shape the bacterial population structure of the mosquito gut with high specificity. Importantly, FN3D2 encodes a homolog of the hypervariable pattern recognition receptor Dscam, suggesting that pathogen-specific recognition may involve a broader family of immune factors. Additionally, we showed that silencing the gene encoding the gustatory receptor Gr9 that is also associated with the Serratia infection phenotype drastically increased Serratia levels. The Gr9 antibacterial activity appears to be related to mosquito feeding behavior and to mostly rely on changes of neuropeptide F expression, together suggesting a behavioral immune response following Serratia infection. Our findings reveal that the mosquito response to oral Serratia infection comprises both an epithelial and a behavioral immune component.

Journal article

White BJ, Lawniczak MKN, Cheng C, Coulibaly MB, Wilson MD, Sagnon N, Costantini C, Simard F, Christophides GK, Besansky NJet al., 2011, Adaptive divergence between incipient species of Anopheles gambiae increases resistance to Plasmodium, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Vol: 108, Pages: 244-249, ISSN: 0027-8424

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Emrich SJ, Holloway AK, Regier AP, Olson M, White B, Redmond S, Fulton L, Appelbaum E, Godfrey J, Farmer C, Chinwalla A, Yang S-P, Minx P, Nelson J, Kyung K, Walenz BP, Garcia-Hernandez E, Aguiar M, Viswanathan LD, Rogers Y-H, Strausberg RL, Saski CA, Lawson D, Collins FH, Kafatos FC, Christophides GK, Clifton SW, Kirkness EF, Besansky NJet al., 2010, Widespread Divergence Between Incipient Anopheles gambiae Species Revealed by Whole Genome Sequences, SCIENCE, Vol: 330, Pages: 512-514, ISSN: 0036-8075

Journal article

Neafsey DE, Lawniczak MKN, Park DJ, Redmond SN, Coulibaly MB, Traore SF, Sagnon N, Costantini C, Johnson C, Wiegand RC, Collins FH, Lander ES, Wirth DF, Kafatos FC, Besansky NJ, Christophides GK, Muskavitch MATet al., 2010, SNP Genotyping Defines Complex Gene-Flow Boundaries Among African Malaria Vector Mosquitoes, SCIENCE, Vol: 330, Pages: 514-517, ISSN: 0036-8075

Journal article

Bretman A, Lawniczak MKN, Boone J, Chapman Tet al., 2010, A mating plug protein reduces early female remating in Drosophila melanogaster., J Insect Physiol, Vol: 56, Pages: 107-113

Mating plugs are formed within the female reproductive tract during mating from male ejaculate constituents or even from male genitalia themselves. Across species, mating plugs have roles in sperm storage and the prevention of female remating. In the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, accessory gland proteins such as the sex peptide are known to reduce female remating, however this effect can take some time to establish, hence other ejaculate components must also be involved. We hypothesised a role for the PEBII mating plug protein in the prevention of early female remating. Using RNA interference we produced PEBII knockdown males. We found that these males were significantly less able to prevent female remating in the 4h following mating. The mating plugs produced by PEBII knockdown males also showed lower levels of autofluorescence in the first 10min after the start of mating, suggesting they differed in composition to those of control males. Reduced levels of PEBII had no effect, however, on fecundity, progeny production or egg-adult viability in the first 24 after mating, suggesting there were no short-term effects of PEB II on sperm transfer, storage or use. Our results show that PEBII has a subtle but significant role in the prevention of early female remating.

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Holloway AK, Begun DJ, Jones CDet al., 2008, Genomic analysis of the relationship between gene expression variation and DNA polymorphism in Drosophila simulans., Genome Biol, Vol: 9

BACKGROUND: Understanding how DNA sequence polymorphism relates to variation in gene expression is essential to connecting genotypic differences with phenotypic differences among individuals. Addressing this question requires linking population genomic data with gene expression variation. RESULTS: Using whole genome expression data and recent light shotgun genome sequencing of six Drosophila simulans genotypes, we assessed the relationship between expression variation in males and females and nucleotide polymorphism across thousands of loci. By examining sequence polymorphism in gene features, such as untranslated regions and introns, we find that genes showing greater variation in gene expression between genotypes also have higher levels of sequence polymorphism in many gene features. Accordingly, X-linked genes, which have lower sequence polymorphism levels than autosomal genes, also show less expression variation than autosomal genes. We also find that sex-specifically expressed genes show higher local levels of polymorphism and divergence than both sex-biased and unbiased genes, and that they appear to have simpler regulatory regions. CONCLUSION: The gene-feature-based analyses and the X-to-autosome comparisons suggest that sequence polymorphism in cis-acting elements is an important determinant of expression variation. However, this relationship varies among the different categories of sex-biased expression, and trans factors might contribute more to male-specific gene expression than cis effects. Our analysis of sex-specific gene expression also shows that female-specific genes have been overlooked in analyses that only point to male-biased genes as having unusual patterns of evolution and that studies of sexually dimorphic traits need to recognize that the relationship between genetic and expression variation at these traits is different from the genome as a whole.

Journal article

Holloway AK, Lawniczak MKN, Mezey JG, Begun DJ, Jones CDet al., 2007, Adaptive gene expression divergence inferred from population genomics., PLoS Genet, Vol: 3, Pages: 2007-2013

Detailed studies of individual genes have shown that gene expression divergence often results from adaptive evolution of regulatory sequence. Genome-wide analyses, however, have yet to unite patterns of gene expression with polymorphism and divergence to infer population genetic mechanisms underlying expression evolution. Here, we combined genomic expression data--analyzed in a phylogenetic context--with whole genome light-shotgun sequence data from six Drosophila simulans lines and reference sequences from D. melanogaster and D. yakuba. These data allowed us to use molecular population genetics to test for neutral versus adaptive gene expression divergence on a genomic scale. We identified recent and recurrent adaptive evolution along the D. simulans lineage by contrasting sequence polymorphism within D. simulans to divergence from D. melanogaster and D. yakuba. Genes that evolved higher levels of expression in D. simulans have experienced adaptive evolution of the associated 3' flanking and amino acid sequence. Concomitantly, these genes are also decelerating in their rates of protein evolution, which is in agreement with the finding that highly expressed genes evolve slowly. Interestingly, adaptive evolution in 5' cis-regulatory regions did not correspond strongly with expression evolution. Our results provide a genomic view of the intimate link between selection acting on a phenotype and associated genic evolution.

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Begun DJ, 2007, Molecular population genetics of female-expressed mating-induced serine proteases in Drosophila melanogaster., Mol Biol Evol, Vol: 24, Pages: 1944-1951, ISSN: 0737-4038

Population genetic analyses have shown that directional selection causes amino acid substitution in several seminal fluid proteins (Acps) and that in general, Acps tend to diverge rapidly. If rapid, adaptive divergence of such male reproduction-related genes is driven by sexual conflict, we might also expect to observe rapid, adaptive evolution in female reproduction-related genes, especially those mediating conflicts between the sexes. Female expressed genes differentially expressed shortly after mating were recently identified using whole genome expression micro-arrays. Such genes may play roles in storing sperm and mediating effects of seminal fluid proteins. Here, we report the results of a molecular population genetic survey from five female reproductive tract expressed serine proteases that show increased transcription shortly after mating. These genes are evolving rapidly, in some cases under directional selection, consistent with models of conflict.

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Barnes AI, Linklater JR, Boone JM, Wigby S, Chapman Tet al., 2007, Mating and immunity in invertebrates., Trends Ecol Evol, Vol: 22, Pages: 48-55, ISSN: 0169-5347

Mating and immunity are intimately linked to fitness. In both vertebrates and invertebrates, recent investigations into mate choice for immunity, tradeoffs between reproduction and immunity, and the relationships between post-mating processes and immune function have revealed that mating and immunity are also intimately linked to each other. Here, we focus on invertebrates and critically examine the evidence that immunity is under sexual selection, both pre- and post-mating, and explore other hypotheses linking mating and immunity. We find little evidence for a consensus regarding which theories best account for the accumulating empirical data. However, we suggest that progress can quickly be made by exploiting the intrinsic strengths of invertebrate model systems.

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Begun DJ, 2005, A QTL analysis of female variation contributing to refractoriness and sperm competition in Drosophila melanogaster., Genet Res, Vol: 86, Pages: 107-114

Sperm competition is an important fitness component in many animal groups. Drosophila melanogaster males exhibit substantial genetic variation for sperm competitive ability and females show considerable genetic variation for first versus second male sperm use. Currently, the forces responsible for maintaining genetic variation in sperm competition related phenotypes are receiving much attention. While several candidate genes contributing to the variation seen in male competitive ability are known, genes involved in female sperm use remain largely undiscovered. Without knowledge of the underlying genes, it will be difficult to distinguish between different models of sexual selection such as cryptic female choice and sexual conflict. We used quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping to identify regions of the genome contributing to female propensity to use first or second male sperm, female refractoriness to re-mating, and early-life fertility. The most well supported markers influencing the phenotypes include 33F/34A (P2), 57B (refractoriness) and 23F/24A (fertility). Between 10% and 15% of the phenotypic variance observed in these recombinant inbred lines was explained by these individual QTLs. More detailed investigation of the regions detected in this experiment may lead to the identification of genes responsible for the QTLs identified here.

Journal article

Lawniczak MKN, Begun DJ, 2004, A genome-wide analysis of courting and mating responses in Drosophila melanogaster females., Genome, Vol: 47, Pages: 900-910, ISSN: 0831-2796

In Drosophila melanogaster, seminal fluid proteins influence several components of female physiology and behavior, including re-mating rates, ovulation and oviposition, and sperm use. It is well-known that female flies are not simply passive vessels and that female-mediated interactions with male products are important to female (and thus male) reproductive success. While the population genetics, molecular evolution and physiological effects of seminal fluid proteins have been examined, the genetics and evolution of the female side of these post-mating interactions is unexplored in spite of work showing that female genotype and female-by-male genotype interactions are important determinants of sperm competition outcomes. Here we use microarrays to identify candidate genes involved in the female side of post-mating sexual interactions. We report the results of a whole-genome oligonucleotide chip experiment that reveals 23 genes differentially expressed between virgin females exposed and unexposed to courting males, and 38 genes differentially expressed between virgin and recently mated females. Immune related genes are overrepresented among the mating-influenced candidates. We use quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR to independently assess gene expression changes for roughly half of the mating-affected candidate genes.

Journal article

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