People

Current Group Members

labflags


PI: Niclas Backström

Please, visit http://www.ieg.uu.se/evolutionary-biology/backstrom/research/ to get more information about current and previous research.

Contact: niclas.backstrom[at]ebc.uu.se

Short CV:

  • 201810 - Senior Lecturer, Uppsala University
  • 201701 - 201809 Associate Senior Lecturer, Uppsala University
  • 201401- 201612 Assistant Professor, Uppsala University, Funded by the Swedish Research Council
  • 201112 - 201312 Repatriation research fellow, Uppsala University, Funded by the Swedish Research Council
  • 200912 - 201111 PostDoctoral research fellow, Harvard University, United States, Funded by the Swedish Research Council
  • 200901 - 200910 PostDoc, Uppsala University
  • 200404 - 200901 PhD student, Uppsala University

A full CV version can be downloaded here.


Grad student: Karin Näsvall

Karin Nasvall

Karin is interested in speciation and genome evolution and her projects revolve around the proximate causes underlying regional variation in diversity (recombination and mutation) and the ultimate forces affecting levels of diversity in populations and patterns of differentiation between diverging lineages (drift, selection). Karin uses butterflies as study objects, with particular focus on the wood white (Leptidea sp.) cryptic species complex. Her personal profile web page is found here.

Contact: karin.nasvall[at]ebc.uu.se

Short CV:

  • 201802 - PhD-student at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University.
  • 2014 - 2017 MSc in Ecology and Biodiversity, Stockholm University
  • Before 2014 Active in veterinary medicine.

Publications:

  • Forthcoming



Grad student: Lars Höök

lars_hook

Lars is a PhD-student exploring the evolution of sex chromosmes, sex determination and dosage compensation in butterflies. Sex determination in Lepidoptera seems to be dependent on presence of W - this is supported by empirical data in the silk moth. However, orthologs for the sex-determining pathway have not been identified in butterflies and Lars' work, which is predominantly focusing on the wood white butterflies (Leptidea sp.) will be important to get detailed understanding of sex-determination, sex-chromosome evolution and dosage compensation in general.

Contact: lars.hook[at]ebc.uu.se

Short CV:

  • 201905 - PhD-student at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University.
  • 2016 - 2018. Msc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2013 - 2016. BSc in Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Publications:

  • Janssen, R., Andersson, E., Betnér, E., Bijl, S., Höök, L., Leyhr, J., Mannelqvist, A., Panara, V., Smith, K. and Tiemann, S. 2018. Embryonic expression patterns and phylogenetic analysis of panarthropod sox genes: insight into nervous system development, segmentation and gonadogenesis. BMC Evolutionary Biology 18: 88.
  • Höök, L., Leal, L., Talla, V. and Backström, N. 2019. Multilayered tuning of dosage compensation and Z-chromosome masculinization in the wood white (Leptidea sinapis) butterfly. Genome Biology and Evolution [In Review].


PostDoc affiliate: Daria Shipilina

dasha

Dasha initiated the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) speciation genomics project when she did research training at Harvard University. She has a background in avian ecology and is an expert on chiffchaff acoustics and morphology. Recently Dasha started utilizing NGS approaches to combine ecology with genomics and investigate the genetic basis of speciation and local adpatation in chiffchaff subspecies abietinus and tristis.

Contact: daria.sh[at]berkeley.edu

Short CV:

  • 2017- Visiting researcher. Institute for Science and Technology, Austria.
  • 2015-2016 Teaching naturalists classes for youth, including botany, zoology, ecology and environmental education at the Krugozor after-school program, UC Berkeley, US.
  • 2011 – 2014 Ph.D. in Biology
    Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
    Thesis: Relationship between Siberian and East-European chiffchaffs in their sympatry
    zone (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus., Ph. (c.) tristis): morphological, bioacoustical
    and genetical aspects (advisor Dr. I. Marova, Moscow State University, ; co-advisor Dr. Niclas Backström, Uppsala University).
  • 2009-2011 Training undergraduate students in field and molecular biology methods at Moscow State (Russian Federation) University and Harvard University (US).
  • 2005 – 2010 M.Sc. in Biology.
    Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
    Thesis: Acoustic and genetical differentiation in a wide zone of hybridization between
    siberian and east-european chiffchaffs (advisor Dr. I. Marova, Moscow State University).

Publications:

  • Talla, V., Kalsoom, F., Shipilina, D., Marova, I., and Backström, N. 2017. Heterogeneous patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation in European and Siberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus / P. tristis). G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7: 3983-3998.
  • Shipilina, D., Serbyn, M., Ivanitskii, V., Marova, I. M., and Backström, N. 2017. Patterns of genetic, phenotypic and acoustic variation across a chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus/tristis) hybrid zone. Ecology & Evolution 7: 2169–2180.
  • N. Selivanova, D. Shipilina, A.Yestafief, I. Marova. 2014. Intrerspecific variability of the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita, Sylviidae, Aves) in a sympatry zone of Siberian and eastern European forms in the Komi republic (morpholgical, bioacoustical and genetical analysis). Bulletin of Moscow society for nature explorers. Division of biology, 119: 3–16.
  • N. Backström, D. Shipilina, M. Blom, S. Edwards. 2013. Cis-regulatory sequence variation and association with Mycoplasma load in natural populations of the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus). Ecology and evolution, 2013, 3: 655–666.
  • Marova I. M., Shipilina D. A., Fedorov V. V., Ivanitskii V. V. 2013. Siberian and East European chiffchaffs: geographical distribution, morphological features, vocalization, phenomenon of mixed singing and evidence of hybridization in a sympatry zone. El mosquitero ib´erico. Grupo Iberico de Anillamiento, L´eon, pps. 119–139.
  • D. Shipilina, I. Marova. 2013. Habitats, population structure and diversity of the song of the Caucasus chiffchaff (Phylloscopus [sindianus] lorenzii) in Northern Caucasus. Ornitologia, 38: 54–63.
  • I. Marova, V. Fedorov, D. Shipilina, V. Alekseev. 2009. Genetic and vocal differentiation in hybrid zones of passerine birds: Siberian and European chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus [collybita] tristis and Ph. [c.] abietinus) in the Southern Urals”, Doklady Biological Sciences. 427: 384–386.
  • I. Marova, V. Fedorov, D. Shipilina, V. Alekseev. 2008. Ornithofauna of western slopes of forest covered mountains of Southern Ural. Materials on birds distribution on the Ural mountains, around the Ural region and Western Siberia. pps. 62–69.


Bachelor Student: Veronika Mrazek

Veronika is a bachelor student of Biological Sciences, coming to carry out her ‘Placement Year’ at Uppsala University. She is interested in using genetic tools to answer evolutionary questions and during her research project, she will investigate the effect of different host plant utilization on gut microbiome and gene expression in wood whites (Leptidea sinapis).   

Contact: MrazekV[at]cardiff.ac.uk

Short CV:

  • 2016 – present BSc in Biological Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales (UK)

Publications:

  • Forthcoming


Master Student: Jesper Boman

Jesper Boman is a master student that will work on two projects related to genome evolution and speciation in wood whites (Leptidea sinapis). Initially, Jesper will use allele frequency distributions to assess the prevalence of GC-biased gene conversion in butterflies in general and in specific karyomorphs in particular. He will also use crosses between distinct karyomorphs of L. sinapis to characterize the genetic basis of F2 hybrid breakdown. Jesper has previously been working with transposable element evolution and genome characterization in birds and the relationship between genome size and phenotypic plasticity in seed beetles.

Contact: jesper.boman[at]gmail.com

Short CV:

  • 2017 - present. Msc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2014 - 2017. BSc in Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Publications:

  • Boman, J., Frankl-Vilches, C., da Silva dos Santos, M., de Oliveira, E. H. C., Gahr, M. and 2 Suh, A. 2019 The genome of blue-capped cordon-bleu uncovers hidden diversity of LTR retrotransposons in zebra finch. Genes 10: 301.


Research training student: Yuhong Li

YuhongLi

Yuhong is interested in learning advanced bioinformatics methods and handling of large data sets. She is conducting her research training in the group with focus on identification of recombination tracts using linked read sequences from small pedigrees of Leptidea sinapis populations with distinct karyomorphs. Yuhong previously worked on a critically endangered species, Grauer’s gorilla, using genotyping to analyze the fecal samples of a Grauer’s gorilla social group to infer its member composition.

Short CV:

  • 201904 - Research training student at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University.
  • 2018 - 2019 Bachelor's student at Uppsala University.
  • 2015 - 2018 Bachelor in Life Science, Shandong University, China.

Publications:

  • Forthcoming

Previous Group Members

Grad student: Venkat Talla

Venkat did his PhD candidate work in the lab. He was mainly interested in genomics of speciation and how genetic diversity and differentiation is affected by demographic events and molecular forces like drift, selection, mutation and recombination. Venkat was primarily using Leptidea butterflies and chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) as study objects. Venkat is now a PostDoc at Emory, mainly working with Danaus plexippus genomics in Jaap de Roode's research group.

Contact: venkat.talla[at]emory.edu

Short CV:

  • 201407 - 20181019 PhD-student in the lab.
  • 201402 - 201406 Visiting student in the Johannesson Lab studying rates of insertions and deletions in Neurospora species.
  • 201310 - 201401 Research assistant at Örebro University, Sweden studying transport in fibroblast cells.
  • 201107 - 201305 Master of Science, SASTRA University, Tamil Nadu, India
  • 200707 - 201105 Bachelor in Technology and Bioinformatics, Vellore Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu, India

Publications:

  • Talla, V., Johansson, A., Dincă, V., Vila, R., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C. and Backström, N. 2019. Invisible islands - genome divergence is driven by weak lineage specific directional selection in a triplet of Leptidea butterfly species. Molecular Ecology [In Review].
  • Talla, V., Soler, L., Kawakami, T., Dincă, V., Vila, R., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C. and Backström, N. 2019. Dissecting the effects of natural selection and mutation on genetic diversity in three recently diverged cryptic butterfly species. Genome Biology and Evolution [In Review].
  • Höök, L., Leal, L., Talla, V. and Backström, N. 2019. Multilayered tuning of dosage compensation and Z-chromosome masculinization in the wood white (Leptidea sinapis) butterfly. Genome Biology and Evolution [In Review].
  • Leal, L.*, Talla, V.*, Källman, T., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C., Dincă, V., Vila, R., and Backström, N. 2018. Gene expression profiling across ontogenetic stages in wood white (Leptidea sinapis) reveals pathways linked to butterfly diapause regulation. Molecular Ecology [In Press] * Shared first authorship.
  • Talla, V., Kalsoom, F., Shipilina, D., Marova, I., and Backström, N. 2017. Heterogeneous patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation in European and Siberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus / P. tristis). G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7: 3983-3998.
  • Talla, V., Suh, A., Kalsoom, F., Dincă, V., Vila, R., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C., and Backström, N. 2017. Rapid increase in genome size as a consequence of transposable element hyperactivity in wood-white (Leptidea) butterflies. Genome Biology and Evolution 9: 2491-2505.


Master Student: Annemiek Blasweiler

annemiek

Annemiek was a master biology student with a passion for comparative genomics and population genetics. She is mainly interested in the diversification of vertebrates and insects. Annemiek used whole genome re-sequencing data to investigate the history of the development of a unique chromosome number cline of the wood white (Leptidea sinapis) across Eurasia, and study positive selection in ecologically distinct populations. Annemiek moved on to enroll in a PhD at Wageningen University.

Contact: annemiekblasweiler[at]outlook.com

Short CV:

  • 2016-present MSc in Biodiversity and Evolution, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

  • 2013-2016 BSc Biology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Publications:

  • Forthcoming

Master student: Kristaps Sokolovskis

kristaps

Kristaps studied migratory behavior and genome differentiation between willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) populations, co-supervised with Professor Staffan Bensch at Lund University. His Research Gate profile is found here. Kristaps is currently taking on his PhD-studies at Lund University.

Contact: kristaps.sokolovskis[at]gmail.com

Short CV:

  • 2015 - present. Msc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2014 - 2015. Research assistant in Jochen Wolf's lab at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2010 - 2014. Bsc in Biology, Daugavpils University, Latvia.

Publications:

  • Sokolovskis K., and Suveizda J. 2012. First record of Phaneroptera falcata (Poda, 1761) (Orthoptera, Phaneropteridae) in Latvia. Latvijas Entomologs 51: 155-157.


Master student: Luis Leal

luis

Luis was attending the Master's program in bioinformatics. He is interested in the use of next generation sequencing technologies to address evolutionary questions, as well as in the development of novel phylogenetic reconstruction methods. In this project (starting January 2017) Luis worked on the assembly, annotation and analysis of the transcriptome of Leptidea sinapis with the aim of identifying key genes and pathways associated to development regulatory mechanisms underlying local adaptation. He now moved on to a PhD in plant genomics with Professor Martin Lascoux at the Department of Ecology and Genetics at Uppsala University.

Contact: luis.leal[at]ebc.uu.se

Publications:

  • Höök, L., Leal, L., Talla, V. and Backström, N. 2019. Multilayered tuning of dosage compensation and Z-chromosome masculinization in the wood white (Leptidea sinapis) butterfly. Genome Biology and Evolution [In Review].
  • Leal, L.*, Talla, V.*, Källman, T., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C., Dincă, V., Vila, R., and Backström, N. 2018. Gene expression profiling across ontogenetic stages in wood white (Leptidea sinapis) reveals pathways linked to butterfly diapause regulation. Molecular Ecology [In Press] * Shared first authorship.


Master student: John Burley

JohnBurley

John was a student in the Erasmus Mundus Masters Program in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). His Masters project research, jointly supervised by Scott Edwards at Harvard University, USA, was on the genomics of population divergence in the blue-faced honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis), an Australo-Papuan songbird. John is currently doing a PhD at Brown University.
 
Contact: john.burley[at]evobio.eu
 
Short CV:

  • 2015-present. MSc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden; MSc in Evolutionary Biology, University of Montpellier, France.
  • 2014-2015. Ecological consultant at GreenCollar Consulting Solutions, Sydney, Australia
  • 2013. BSc (Honours) in Environmental Science, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • 2012. Field Ecology Intern, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
  • 2008-2011. BSc (Advanced) in Biology and Plant Science, University of Sydney, Australia

Publications:

  • Forthcoming

Master student: Axel Söderberg

Axel was interested in applying modelling approaches and use demographic information to understand how selection shapes the allele frequency changes between diverging lineages. In this project Axel used SNPs generated by next generation re-sequencing data from different butterfly populations to study the genetic basis of local adaptation and potential parallelism. The results were important for us to understand how selection can drive differentiation processes in natural populations.

Contact: axel[at]southmountain.se

Short CV:

  • 2015-2017. MSc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2013-2015. BSc in Biology, Uppsala University

Publications:

  • McFarlane, S. E., Söderberg, A., Wheatcroft, D., and Qvarnström, A. 2016. Song discrimination by nestling collared flycatchers during early development. Biology Letters [In Press]


Master student: Faheema Fida Kalsoom

FaheemaKalsoom

Faheema did her Masters thesis work focusing on speciation genomics in chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). She used a recently developed de novo assembly of the chiffchaff genome and bioinformatic approaches to study patterns of genetic variation within different subspecies. The aim was to try to identify regions that show evidence for diversifying selection. In addition she was exploring different approaches to annotate the chiffchaff genome.

Faheema was also doing a successful research training project in the lab working on transposable element evolution, speciation and genome rearrangements in Leptidea butterflies. She was mainly focusing on quantification of patterns of diversity and differentiation within and between karyotypic extremes in L. sinapis, a species with considerable chromosome number variation across populations. Faheema is currently a PhD-student at the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University.

Contact: faheema.kalsoom.5034[at]student.uu.se

Short CV:

  • 201605 - 201609 Masters thesis project on chiffchaff speciation.
  • 201602 - 201605 Research training student in the lab.
  • 201409 - 201601 Master Student, Bioinformatics, Uppsala University
  • 201401 - 201408 Research Assistant, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway
  • 2009 - 2011 MSc, Sustainable Water Sanitation Health and Development, Pakistan
  • 2005 - 2009 BSc, Bioinformatics, COMSATS University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Publications:

  • Talla, V., Kalsoom, F., Shipilina, D., Marova, I., and Backström, N. 2017. Heterogeneous patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation in European and Siberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus / P. tristis). G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7: 3983-3998.
  • Talla, V., Suh, A., Kalsoom, F., Dincă, V., Vila, R., Friberg, M., Wiklund, C., and Backström, N. 2017. Rapid increase in genome size as a consequence of transposable element hyperactivity in wood-white (Leptidea) butterflies. Genome Biology and Evolution 9: 2491-2505.


Master student: Ye Xiong

ye

Ye Xiong was interested in speciation and evolutionary history. Ye used to study trade-offs and fitness effects in the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) and calls herself 'light green' biologist as she enjoys work in both the field and the lab. Ye worked on a new project where she quantified mutation rate variation in butterfly nuclear and mitochondrial DNA and estimated divergence times between closely related wood-white butterflies. Ye is currently doing a PhD at Lund University.

Contact: elsie.xiongy[at]gmail.com

Short CV:

  • 2015-2017. MSc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2013-2014. Research assistant in Lars Gustafsson’s team at Animal Ecology Department, Uppsala University
  • 2010-2013. BSc in Conservation Biology, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall

Publications:

  • Forthcoming


Exam project student: Paulina Widell

Paulina

Paulina did her Bachelor thesis work on speciation genetics in general. She was working on a literature review on speciation genetics and combined that with bioinformatic methods to gain insight into differentiation processes between closely related butterfly species.

Contact: paulina.widell3[at]gmail.com

Short CV:

  • 201604 - 201610 Bachelor thesis project on speciation genetics.
  • 2013 - 2016 Student, Biology, Uppsala University

Publications:

  • Forthcoming


Visiting student: Xuelai Wang

Xuelai is interested in speciation genetics and ornithology. She was doing a research training project studying genomic differentiation between chiffchaff subspecies in the lab during fall 2015. Xuelai is now investigating the genetic background of evolutionary relevant traits in Ficedula flycatchers at the Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala University.

Short CV:

  • 201507 - 201511 Visiting student in the lab.
  • 201409 - 201507 MSc in Ecology and Conservation, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 2009 - 2014 MSc in Biotechnology at the Fudan University, P.R. China.

Publications:

  • Forthcoming


Visiting student: Keshika Ravichandran

Keshika is interested in patterns of genetic variation in genes potentially underlying genital morphology in butterflies. She was doing a research training project in the lab during the spring of 2015.

Short CV:

  • 201501 - 201507 Visiting student in the lab.
  • 2012 - 2015 Bachelor's degree in Genetic Engineering at the SRM University, Kattankulathur, India.

Publications:

  • Forthcoming


Visiting student: Dou Hu

Dou Hu

Dou was doing a research training project in the lab studying the molecular evolution of candidate genes for genital morphology. Dou is currently doing her PhD-candidate work in Switzerland.

Short CV:

  • 201410 - PhD-student, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 201406 - 201409 Visiting student in Backström Lab at EBC, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • 201309 - 201406 Master student at the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) studying among other things the genetic underpinnings of dwarfism in rabbits.
  • 201208 - 201308 Student and Master Student at Wageningen University in The Netherlands working on e.g. cDNA library constructions in domestic pigs.
  • 200809 - 201207 Bachelor in Animal Science at Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, P.R. China.

Publications:

  • Forthcoming

MAIN Collaborators

Christer Wiklund, Stockholm University (lab web page)

Magne Friberg, Lund University

Roger Vila, Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, Barcelona, Spain (lab web page)

Gerard Talavera, Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, Barcelona, Spain (lab web page)