Husby Group: research

Genetics of phenotypic plasticity in a house sparrow meta-population

Together with the Jensen lab at NTNU we are using SNP genotype data from custom arrays (see Hagen et al 2011 Mol Ecol Res) to examine the genetics of plasticity in clutch size, number of clutches and timing of breeding using genome wide association mapping approaches. We are currently developing and genotyping birds on a high density SNP array (200k) for increased power and resolution. This project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the University of Helsinki.

Genetic basis of complex traits in collared flycatchers

The closely related pied and collared flycatcher are among the first ecological model bird species (Qvarnström et al 2010 PRSB) to have their genome sequenced (see Ellegren et al. 2012 Nature). Using whole genome resequence data from these species Kawakami et al (2014 Mol Ecol and Mol Ecol Resources) have developed a high density SNP array that we are currently using to map the genetic basis of trait variation using the long-term study population on Öland together with Anna Qvarnström’s lab at Uppsala University.

DNA methylation patterns in great tits

Epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation play an important role in phenotypic plasticity but little work has so far focussed on this in natural vertebrate populations. We aim to examine the extent of local and genome wide methylation patterns using an experimental approach on a population of great tits. This project is in collaboration with Dr Kees van Oers and Prof Marcel Visser at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and is funded by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council.

Population structure and plasticity of wing polymorphism in waterstriders

We have recently started work on a species of water striders (Gerridae) that show latitudinal variation in wing polymorphism. The development of wings are dependent on temperature and photoperiod and we aim to study the genetic mechanism behind the plasticity in wing polymorphism. We also will examine population structure in this species as dispersal is likely very limited in Nordic countries given that nearly all individuals lacks wings. This project is a collaboration with Dr Elina Immonen at Uppsala University. The project is funded by a 3 year grant from the University of Helsinki.