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How to find us M.C. (Michael C.) Fontaine, PhD

Research interests

Short version

My research aims to better understand the processes of adaptation and speciation using population genetics. I use computational approaches and genomic data to test hypotheses about how natural populations evolve.

Longer version

I am interested in how natural populations evolve and adapt at the genomic level. I am particularly interested in the process of adaptation and speciation, through which clusters of individual genotypes become distinct and persist over time. This is the fundamental process that underlies the evolution and diversification of life.

How, when, and why did distinct populations or species split? What are the evolutionary footprints left in their genomes? What is the role of natural selection in shaping the diversity of natural populations and species? When sexual species hybridize and share genetic material, why don't they eventually collapse into a single species? What are the consequences of the exchanges of genetic material between species, and how often is this process beneficial? These are some of the questions I work on.

I have been working on a broad range of organisms during my career, from marine mammals to plant pathogens, and mosquitoes. Since 2012, my interest has focused increasingly towards the diverse and highly adaptable Anopheles mosquitoes, well known for being vectors of the deadly Plasmodium parasites responsible of malaria. Most anopheles species are complex of closely related species with races with distinct ecology ("ecotypes") that hybridize in the wild.

My overall goal is to improve our understanding of speciation and adaptation by testing hypotheses about the mechanics of these processes. By better understanding the pattern of diversity, introgression, and adaptation, my work also contributes to design and assess the feasibility and impacts of new vector control strategies. I use genome sequencing of natural populations combined with both descriptive and model-based computational approaches, most of which are rooted in population-genetic theory. I am interested in developing creative ways of working with genomic data, so that we can get the most out of this tremendous resource.

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Publications

No leading-edge effect in North Atlantic harbor porpoises: Evolutionary and conservation implications

Assessing connectivity despite high diversity in island populations of a malaria mosquito

Building genomic infrastructure: Sequencing platinum-standard reference-quality genomes of all cetacean species

Europe as a bridgehead in the worldwide invasion history of grapevine downy mildew, Plasmopara viticola

Genetic homogeneity in the face of morphological heterogeneity in the harbor porpoise from the Black Sea and adjacent waters (Phocoena phocoena relicta)

Genome variation and population structure among 1142 mosquitoes of the African malaria vector species Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles coluzzii

Mitochondrial genomics reveals the evolutionary history of the porpoises (Phocoenidae) across the speciation continuum

Radiation with reticulation marks the origin of a major malaria vector

Selection on ancestral genetic variation fuels parallel ecotype formation in bottlenose dolphins

The rise of the three-spined stickleback: Eco-evolutionary consequences of a mesopredator release

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Press/media

New genetic study of mosquitoes demonstrates movement of insecticide resistance across Africa

Mercury contamination found in Everglades dolphins

L’évolution « récente » des grands dauphins mieux comprise

L'histoire des marsouins de la mer Noire reconstituée grâce à la génétique

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