Anne E Kwitek Ph.D. [Former faculty]

John Logsdon Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Research area(s): 
Computational Genetics; Molecular and Biochemical Genetics; Evolutionary Genetics
Research Focus: 

The Logsdon lab works on a variety of related topics in molecular evolutionary genetics:


  1. Exploring the origin and evolution of meiotic genes in diverse eukaryotes.
  2. Molecular evolution and phylogeny of meiotic genes.
  3. Isolation of meiosis-related genes from protists and other eukaryotes.
  4. Functional studies of meiotic genes isolated from diverse eukaryotes.
  5. Bioinformatic studies of meiosis and recombination/repair genes.


  1. Understanding the molecular phylogeny of eukaryotes.
  2. Using complex gene families to root the eukaryotic tree of life.
  3. Isolating new protein genes to address thorny issues in eukaryotic phylogeny.


  1. Developing a better understanding of the frequency, roles, distribution and phylogenetic impacts of LGT in prokaryotes.
  2. Comparative bioinformatics of bacterial genomes.
  3. Mathematical modeling/ computer simulation.


  1. Discovery and analysis of genomic sequence from key protists.
  2. Comparative bioinformatics of protist genomes as grist for hypothesis-driven research in the lab.


  1. Understanding of the origin and evolution of spliceosomal introns
  2. What are their roles in eukaryotic genome evolution? What is their phylogenetic distribution?

Anne E Kwitek Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Pharmacology & Internal Medicine
Associate Director, Iowa Institute of Human Genetics

Josep M Comeron Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Research area(s): 
Computational Genetics; Evolutionary Genetics
Research Focus: 

We apply a multidisciplinary approach-combining empirical work to obtain sequence data, large-scale genomic analyses, and the development of theoretical, analytical and computational tools-to investigate: 1) variation in the efficacy of natural selection among species and across genomes, 2) the evolution of recombination across genomes and among species, 3) the evolution of introns (presence and size) and genome structure in eukaryotes, 4) the evolutionary consequences of changes in population size, and 5) the genetic basis of speciation. Likely, many mutations important to evolution have much smaller selection coefficients than it is practicable to demonstrate in the laboratory. Population genetics and molecular evolution analyses-the study of nucleotide variability within and between species, respectively-are powerful tools that allow us to detect the action of selection on naturally-occurring mutations, even if the fitness effects of these mutations are extremely weak. We study the causes and consequences of changes in recombination rates among species and across genomes, focusing on the influence of meiotic recombination on the efficacy of selection in eukaryotes. To measure possible changes in the effectiveness of selection, we study weakly selected mutations such as synonymous mutations (changes in the coding sequence that do not alter protein sequence) and small insertion/deletions (indels). The same population genetics techniques that are commonly applied to nucleotide changes can be also applied to genomic features, allowing us to investigate the forces involved in the evolution of gene number, the origin of introns, the evolution of exon-intron structures, and ultimately genome size. This genomics-meets-population genetics approach (i.e., population genomics) can be implemented with computer simulations mimicking the evolutionary process (in silico evolution), a computationally-intensive technique that provides new and valuable insights into the expected outcome of complex evolutionary processes. We also apply molecular evolution and population genetics techniques to study recent speciation events. In particular, we investigate Drosophila species to gain insight into the evolutionary patterns of genes involved in phenotypic differentiation and reproductive isolation.


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