Asher Cutter

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Asher Cutter
Earth Science Centre, ESC 2052
416-978-4602

My research aims to understand evolutionary change in genomes. I use the tools of population genetics and molecular evolution to characterize how natural selection and selectively neutral processes interact to shape nucleotide polymorphism and divergence across the genome. For much of this work, I focus on the potential for breeding system evolution in the nematode roundworm genus Caenorhabditis to drive molecular evolution.

Using the self-fertilizing species C. elegans and C. briggsae to compare with several related obligately outbreeding species, my laboratory investigates such questions as: What detectable footprints do self-fertilization and very weak selection leave in DNA sequences? How do selection and demography (population size change and structure) pattern genetic variation and divergence in genomes? How does heterogeneity in rates of crossover, gene conversion, and mutation influence sequence evolution? To answer these questions, we integrate several approaches by collecting and analyzing large-scale DNA sequence datasets to compare individuals within and between species, by developing simple mathematical models and conducting computer simulations, and by performing multi-generation laboratory experiments.

Some current projects include:

  • Population genomics in Caenorhabditis (sequencing whole genomes of multiple individuals)
  • Transcriptome sequencing and assembly of new species
  • Determination of selective and demographic influences on genome variation and differentiation *Investigation of selective and neutral consequences of recombination on genome evolution


Cutter lab website http://labs.eeb.utoronto.ca/cutter

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