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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Stefano Porrelli

PhD Student



Project Title: 

Comparative genomic approach for detection of introgressed loci and their impact on the adaptive radiations within the family Bovidae (Cetartiodactyla, Ruminantia)


The role of hybridisation in generating biological diversity has been a topic of much debate. Whereas some authors consider it as an important evolutionary phenomenon that played a role in the evolutionary history of many extant taxa, particularly plants, its impact in the kingdom Animalia remains controversial, mostly because of an assumed reduced fitness or sterility in hybrid offspring. However, recent studies indicate that the role of hybridisation in the diversification of the mammalian clade is more common than previously thought. Hybridisation can promote the transfer of beneficial alleles by the process of introgression, instantly providing raw material (in terms of genetic variation) for rapid adaptation and potentially facilitating adaptive radiations of the hybrid lineage.

Within Bovidae (Cetartiodactyla, Ruminantia), several instances of ancient and recent introgressive hybridisation events have been identified, in many cases involving genes of adaptive importance. In this study, we developed a genomic approach to detect introgressed loci and to characterise the role and directionality of introgressive hybridisation in bovid radiation, as well as reconstruct a robust phylogeny. By sampling large genomic region, including all representative taxa and considering all modes of inheritance, this strategy should overcome the systematic challenges of bovid phylogeny and detect hybridisation events and introgressed loci.



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