UCL Division of Biosciences


GEE Seminar - Professor Mark Kirkpatrick, University of Texas at Austin

29 November 2023, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

Title: ‘The Genomic Battle of the Sexes’

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


1-19 Torrington Place

Academic Host: Max Reuter
Abstract: Sexually antagonistic selection, which occurs when different alleles are favored in females and males, is key to important evolutionary processes.  Its prevalence in the genome has been difficult to determine, however, because standard methods used to detect selection from DNA sequences do not work in this context.  We introduce a new method for detecting sexually antagonistic selection and apply it to sequences from some 250K individuals in the UK BIobank.  We confirm previous reports that weak but highly significant selection acts on a very large number of sites in the human genome.  There are life history tradeoffs:  alleles that increase survival in females tend to decrease their fecundity, and to have the opposite effects in males.  Sexually antagonistic selection contributes detectably to mortality, but is responsible for only about one in 1000 deaths.

About the Speaker

Professor Mark Kirkpatrick

at University of Texas at Austin

How does evolution generate the fantastic diversity we see in nature? Our lab studies this question from a genetic perspective. My work uses mathematical models and develops statistical tools to test hypotheses. I'm interested in the evolution of sex determination, genome structure, species ranges, mate choice, and quantitative traits. Students and postdocs in our group compliment these theoretical approaches with experimental ones.

We work on a wide range of problems. A big focus is chromosome evolution. Despite huge advances in genomic science, we still have very little understanding of such basic questions as: Why do species have different numbers of chromosomes?, How and why do chromosome rearrangements evolve?, and Why do some taxa keep re-evolving new sex chromosomes? Our results suggest that adaptation to local ecological conditions and sexually antagonistic selection are important drivers of chromosome evolution.

More about Professor Mark Kirkpatrick