Genomes are frequently in conflict with selfish DNAs – genetic elements that can spread in genomes and populations without offering any benefit, and many times even causing harm, to their hosts. Our lab integrates genomic, cytological and molecular approaches to study selfish DNA and its impact on genome evolution. Our primary interest is in satellite DNA (repetitive DNA typically found at centromeres and telomeres) and meiotic drive. Lab projects focus on three related areas:


I. The functional and evolutionary genomics of satellite DNA

Drosophila melanogaster mitotic chromosomes labeled with a 1.688 family satellite probe.

Satellite DNAs are tandem repeats typically found at centromeres and telomeres. We use genomic, cytological and molecular approaches to study the functional genomics of satellite DNAs and their dynamic evolution across taxa.




II. Molecular mechanisms of meiotic drive

A cyst of individualizing sperm in Drosophila affinis sex ratio males.

Meiotic drivers are selfish genetic elements that gain a transmission advantage through the germline. We use genetic, genomic and cytological approaches to determine the molecular mechanism of different drive systems. Our primary focus is on the selfish Segregation Distorter complex of D. melanogaster.



III. Y chromosome evolution

Drosophila guanche mitotic chromosomes: sex chromosomes are labeled with an rDNA probe.

Drosophila Y chromosomes are dense in repetitive sequences and carry few protein-coding genes, but in most species are important for male fertility.  We are interested in the evolution of Y chromosomes across Drosophila species.



Photinus pyralis