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About us Practical matters 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

A genotyping array for the globally invasive vector mosquito, Aedes albopictus

A comparison of genomic diversity and demographic history of the North Atlantic and Southwest Atlantic southern right whales

Ancient dolphin genomes reveal rapid repeated adaptation to coastal waters

Harbor porpoise losing its edge: Genetic time series suggests a rapid population decline in Iberian waters over the last 30 years

Microbiome composition is shaped by geography and population structure in the parasitic wasp Asobara japonica , but not in the presence of the endosymbiont Wolbachia

Models based on best-available information support a low inbreeding load and potential for recovery in the vaquita

Population genomic evidence of adaptive response during the invasion history of Plasmodium falciparum in the Americas

Standing genetic variation and chromosome differences drove rapid ecotype formation in a major malaria mosquito

Evolutionary history of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium simium in the Americas

Global flyway evolution in red knots Calidris canutus and genetic evidence for a Nearctic refugium

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Press/media

Ancient genes vital for dolphin survival

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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