Life Science Hour Seminar Series

Name:Love Dalén
Title:Using ancient genomes to explore the evolutionary history of Pleistocene Megafauna
Date:Friday, 5 May 2017
Time:3:00PM
Location:Murie Life Science Bldg, Murie Auditorium.

Abstract:

In recent years, a revolution in DNA sequencing technology has made it possible to recover complete genome sequences from prehistoric remains. This has opened up for new ways to examine long-standing questions in paleoecology, including estimating divergence times and gene flow among populations, as well as exploring changes in genetic diversity through time. In this presentation, I will summarize the results from several recent studies where we have employed a palaeogenomic approach to examine the Late Quaternary history of woolly mammoth and wolf populations, which inhabited the high Arctic during and after the last Ice Age. Using time-stamped genomes to both calibrate genome-wide mutation rates and to quantify changes in genetic parameters through time, we have estimated the divergence time and subsequent gene flow between wolves and dogs, and have quantified the timing and extent of genome erosion in the wolly mammoth leading up to its extinction.

About the Speaker:

Love Dalén received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Stockholm University in 2005. He is now Professor of Evolutionary Genetics and head of research at the Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. His current research comprises projects on woolly mammoth genomics and studies on conservation genomics using museum specimens. A major portion of his research in the last 10 years have aimed to understand the trajectory of genetic changes in the woolly mammoth leading up to the species extinction. Results have demonstrated that the woolly mammoth’s demography was highly dynamic in the past, and have also shown that the species went through a severe loss in genetic diversity prior to its extinction.

Love has been also working on genetic analyses of cold-adapted taxa throughout his career. This work has mainly been focused on how cold-adapted species respond to changes in climate, and the species he has have been working on include arctic foxes, wolfs, lemmings and ptarmigan. More at www.palaeogenetics.com/ld.

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