Mammalian 'omics: from population genomics to speciation genomics to metagenomics

SNIC 2022/6-325


SNIC Medium Storage

Principal Investigator:

Katerina Guschanski


Uppsala universitet

Start Date:


End Date:


Primary Classification:

10615: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Classification:

10610: Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (methods development to be 10203)



Studies of mammalian genomes and their associated microorganisms can provide unique insights into the evolutionary processes that shape species diversity, drive local adaptation and promote co-diversification (and possibly co-evolution) of hosts and their microbiomes. We are working on a set of projects that range from speciation genomics to population genomics to metagenomics. Project 1: First, we look at the effects of (ancient) gene flow on generating remarkable species diversity in a group of African monkeys, known as guenons. To this end, we analyse whole genome sequences of almost all guenon species, reconstruct evolutionary relationships using markers of different inheritance mode (mitochondrial, autosomal and sex-linked genes) and analyse the frequency, prevalence and timing of gene flow across this radiation. We pay particular attention to introgressed genes that may promote adaptations and speculate that some species in the complex could be the result of hybrid speciation. Project 2: Second, we attempt to understand how genomic architecture may promote or hinder gene flow. To this end, we generate genome assemblies of multiple guenon species that differ strongly in their karyotypes but have experienced ancient (or present-day) hybridization. We localize the introgressed region on the chromosome models to understand which genome structures are conductive of introgression. Project 3: Third, we investigate how adaptations to the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a close relative of the human deficiency virus (HIV) and a strong selective force in primates, affected the guenon evolution. Some guenon species are natural hosts to SIV and live the virus without developing AIDS. The prevalence of SIV among guenons differs, however, and may have led to host-virus co-evolution. Project 4: Finally, we investigate in how far environmental conditions and human impact are affecting ecological interactions of mammals with their environment. We study different mammalian species throughout the mammalian tree of life with the focus on their oral microbial communities as preserved in dental calculus – a calcified form of the microbial biofilm. We ask which factors are primary shaping the oral microbiome: host evolutionary relationships, host ecology, diet or geographic location. We also study how a drastic population bottleneck has affected oral health and oral microbial communities in Swedish brown bears. We have identified a link between bear population size and the prevalence of oral disease in bears (presence of caries and periodontitis) and are currently investigating the causative microbial agents of these diseases, changes in the composition of the oral microbiome through time and evolutionary relationships of bear and human oral pathogens. We also infer how human use of antibiotics may have impacted the prevalence and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes that reside in the oral microbiome of wild animals around the globe.