Eco-evolutionary ‘omics and host-microbe interactions
University of Zürich, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

Martin Kapun

Principal Investigator

Anton Strunov

Postdoc resarcher

Research Interests:

We investigate evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that shape genetic and phenotypic variation within and among populations and species. Many of our questions are centered around understanding the contribution of demography and adaptive evolution to spatio-temporal variation in natural populations that may eventually lead to speciation. We are further interested in deciphering the mechanistic basis of phenotypes, including life-history traits and coloration that are under strong spatially varying or sexual selection in natural populations.

To address these questions, we combine state-of-the-art bioinformatic approaches at the genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic level with lab- and field-based quantitative phenotypic assays focusing on two insect model systems: (1) Closely related scavenger fly species of the genus Sepsis and (2) fruit flies of the genus Drosophila.

In addition, we want to better understand eco-evolutionary dynamics resulting from host-microbe interactions. To this end, we primarily investigate fitness-related and behavioral effects of Wolbachia endosymbionts on Drosophila melanogaster hosts. Our analyses are not limited to the core nuclear genome, but will be extended towards the hologenome, i.e. the collective genome of the host and all of its symbiotic microbes. This allows to unravel genetic signals of conflicting and cooperative interactions between the host and its tightly associated microbiota.

Research topics:

  • Population- and comparative genomics of Sepsid dung flies
  • Metagenomic characterization of the microbiome of Sepsid dung flies
  • The influence of microbial symbionts on thermal preference and life-history traits in Drosophila melanogaster
  • Landscape genomics of Drosophila melanogaster from Europe and North America 
  • Evolution of chromosomal inversions in Drosophila