UCL Division of Biosciences


Dr. Adrien Rieux

Adrien Rieux

I am a young population geneticist broadly interested in the evolution and spread of infectious diseases. I studied evolutionary sciences at the University of Montpellier and did my PhD in collaboration between this institution, a company involved in crop-protection and CIRAD, a research centre working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues. In this project, I combined field experiments in Cameroon, molecular biology, spatial statistic and population genetics methods to shed light on the dispersal abilities of a threatening plant pathogenic fungus causing detrimental economic and environmental damages. Those results will hopefully help the design of new eco-friendly strategies of fungicide application aiming to prevent resistant alleles reaching high frequency equilibrium values.

I joined Francois Balloux freshly established research team at UCL genetic institute in June 2012. There, I use phylogenomics tools, i.e. analyses involving genome-wide data and phylogenetic reconstructions to gain insights into the past demographic and evolutionary history of various species (e.g. inferring their rate of evolution, genomic rearrangements, dispersal abilities, population sizes, routes of expansions, divergence times etc…). I have a particular soft spot for "molecular dating" methods that aim to co-estimate the rate at which genomes accumulates mutations with the timing of various evolutionary events from phylogenies. This field has recently been revolutionized by technological developments in high-throughput sequencing methods, as the generation of ancient genomes provide direct information on the real-time rate of sequence changes. I'm interested in applying those computational biology tools to better understand how pathogens adapt to new environments (the use of antimicrobial compounds being one of those factors for example) and subsequently spread. A better understanding of all those processes is required to improve our abilities to control disease propagation and to define new efficient management strategies for their control.

Even though I'm currently focusing on two projects involving humans and wildlife pathogens species (Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis respectively), humans and human-dispersed micro-organisms have also recently appealed my scientific curiosity. Additional details on my work and scientific interests can be found via my personal web page: http://adrienrieux.wordpress.com/.