Leif Andersson

Dr. Leif Andersson


Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University
Field of research : Genetics and genome biologyEmail : leif.andersson[at]imbim.uu.se

"Linking evolution and genomics "

30th July 15:00-15:20 (Open to all)

Venue: The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

(Drammensveien 78, Oslo)

The development of high throughput-sequencing and methods for assembling genomes make it now possible to study the entire genome of any organism on the planet. I will illustrate this by presenting how we resolved two mysteries in biology. The first example concerns the presence of three different male morphs in ruff with strikingly different reproductive strategies and associated differences in body size and plumage. We have demonstrated that the two alternative male morphs carry different versions of a 4.5 Mbp inversion that has been maintained in the population for about 4 million years.

The other example concerns the Atlantic herring where previous studies based on a handful of selectively neutral markers indicated essentially no genetic differentiation even between populations from strikingly difficult environments such as the Atlantic Ocean and the brackish Baltic Sea. Whole genome sequence analysis has now demonstrated that the great majority of sequence polymorphisms show no genetic differentiation due to the extremely low genetic drift in this highly abundant species. In contrast, loci underlying ecological adaptation show that the Atlantic herring is subdivided into a large number of stocks adapted to the local conditions where and when they are spawning. The result is highly relevant for the sustainable use of this important marine fish.

Dr. Leif Andersson is a specialist in genetics and genome biology. He has made groundbreaking studies on the relationship between genetic and phenotypic variation. He has been working on comparative genomics using domestic animals as study objects the last 30 years. The work has focused on domestic animals as models for phenotypic evolution and resulted in a steady stream of interesting findings on genotype-phenotype relationships such as mutations affecting pigmentation, gaits in horses, comb morphology in chickens and muscle growth in pigs. He has also studied the genetic basis for domestication of rabbits, chicken and pigs. More recently the research program has been expanded to include natural populations such as the Darwin’s finches, the ruff and Atlantic herring because of the exciting opportunities opened up by the development of new sequencing technologies.

Leif Andersson is professor in Functional Genomics at Uppsala University and in Animal Genomics at Texas A&M University, and guest professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He is member of The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, The Swedish Royal Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Foreign Associate of the National Academy (USA) and International Member of the American Philosophical Society. He was awarded the Wolf prize in Agriculture 2014.