Associate Professor of Biology
MAJOR AREA: Genome Biology and Evolution
OFFICE:B08 Life Science
LAB: B02 Life Science
Ph.D. University of Paris 6, France (2001)
My research focuses on transposable elements (TEs), genetic elements that are able to move and replicate within the genomes of virtually all living organisms. They are found in vast numbers in most eukaryotic genomes and often constitute the single largest component of the genetic material. For example, half of the human genome is made of TEs and more than 80% of the maize genome is occupied by TEs. Although first coined as 'junk DNA', there is now compelling evidence that TEs have contributed profoundly to shaping eukaryotic genomes through their movement and amplification (for a review, see Feschotte et al. Nature Reviews Genetics 2002).
Research in my laboratory uses a combination of computational and experimental tools to better understand the impact of TEs on eukaryotic genome evolution. Large populations of elements are identified in genome sequences and their evolutionary history deciphered through the use of bioinformatic and phylogenetic tools. The patterns and molecular mechanisms of evolution revealed by such sequence analyses are tested functionally by using established in vitro and in vivo systems as well as emerging technologies in functional genomics.