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I am a geneticist and evolutionary biologist with a broad interest in the organismal adaptation. I combine different approaches from molecular biology, population genetics, and quantitative genetics to better understand the adaptation at the molecular level. The integration of different disciplines minimizes the spurious classification of genetic variation as adaptive[1].

As George C. Williams once said (1966):
“Evolutionary adaptation is a special and onerous concept that should not be used unnecessarily, and an effect should not be called a function unless it is clearly produced by design and not by chance.”[2]

Researc_organismal_adaptation

We should pragmatically reject the hypothesis of a structure, function, and/or variation as being solely an expression of chance, a by-product of evolutionary constraints, to classify them as being adaptive, as once posited by Gould & Lewontin (1979)[3].

I a have a special interest in the rapid adaptation of the organisms to their natural environment and/or human-mediated stressors. In my research, I have been using several insect pests, their natural enemies and an insect species that live in extreme habitat as model organisms.

More recently I moved towards the theoretical population genetics and I am working in the development of a framework based on Approximation Bayesian Computation (ABC) to tackle the identification of regions of the genome under the influence of selection. The ABC framework can not only model the molecular adaptation but can allow us to control the demographic signal, minimizing the spurious identification of adaptive variation.

The study of organismal adaptation is an interdisciplinary subject in its nature since it requires the collection of different type of data (genotypic, phenotypic and fitness) that require the use of different methods and approaches, from different disciplines (population genetics, quantitative genetics, bioinformatics etc). By incorporating the different approaches from different areas of the research and developing of a new method of the analysis I expect to improve the study of organismal adaptation.

References
[1]Barrett RDH, Hoekstra HE (2011). Molecular spandrels: tests of adaptation at the genetic level. Nat Rev Genet 12: 767–780.
[2]Williams, GC (1966) Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought. Princeton University Press.
[3]Gould S, Lewontin R (1979) The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist program. Proc R Soc Lond B, 205, 581-598.