Clifford W. Zeyl deptbio.gif (1673 bytes) wfu.gif (2277 bytes)
Associate Professor of Biology

BS University of Guelph (1989)
MS McGill University (1992)
Ph.D. McGill University (1996)

206 Winston Hall
(336) 758-4292

matinga.jpg (14017 bytes)

Areas of Interest

evolutionary genetics, particularly adaptation, mutation, and the evolution of sex


Evolutionary change usually happens too slowly to be observed directly, which makes it difficult to study the genetic basis of evolution. My lab studies evolution as it occurs in budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Its short generation time allows a significant amount of evolutionary change to be observed within several months, and the tools of classical genetics and current genomics methods can then be used to examine the genetic details of how populations adapt over thousands of generations. Some of the questions we are currently studying are:

1) How do sexual reproduction and recombination affect ecological specialization? Is it possible that asexual populations are better able to specialize for different niches?

2) How many loci change in response to selection in a particular environment? Starting with identical populations in identical selective environments, do replicate populations adapt by similar or different gentic mechanisms?. 

3) What are the effects of sex and recombination in yeast populations in their natural habitat surrounding oak trees? Do sex and recombination play different roles in these variable environments than they do in the usual controlled laboratory environments?

4) How do yeast populations adapt to environmental gradients (e.g. Petri dishes in which pH varies from acid to alkaline across the plate?) We plan to use such environments as model systems for the establishment of species ranges and possibly for speciation.

5) how does spatial structure affect the fate of asexual and sexual populations? Do fixed patterns of neighborhood interactions favor asexual populations in which pairwise interactions can become more specialized?

Selected Publications

Zeyl , C. and S. Otto. 2007. A short history of recombination in yeast. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 223-225.

Zeyl, C. 2007. Evolutionary genetics: a piggyback ride to adaptation and diversity. Current Biology 17: R333-335.

Zeyl, C. 2007. How missing genes interact. Nature Genetics (News & Views) 39:440-442.

Zeyl, C. 2007. Zeyl, C. 2006. Evolutionary genetics: choosing to evolve. Current Biology 16: R87-R89.

Zeyl , C., C. Curtin, K. Karnap, and E. Beauchamp. 2005. Tradeoffs between sexual and vegetative fitness in Saccharomyces cerevisiae . Evolution 59: 2109-2115.

Zeyl, C., B. Andreson, and E. Weninck. 2005. Nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis for fitness in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Evolution 59: 910-914.

Zeyl, C. 2005. The number of mutations selected during adaptation in a laboratory population of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics 169: 1825-1831

Grimberg, B. and C. Zeyl. 2005. The effects of sex and mutation rate on adaptation in test tubes and to mouse hosts by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Evolution 59: 431-438.

Zeyl, C., T. Vanderford, and M. Carter.  2003.  An evolutionary advantage of haploidy in large yeast populations.  Science 299: 555–558. Abstract  Full Text

Taylor, D. R., C. Zeyl, and E. Cooke. 2002. Conflicting levels of selection in the accumulation of mitochondrial defects in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 3690-3694.

Zeyl, C., M. Mizesko, and J. A. G. M. DeVisser. 2001. Mutational meltdown in laboratory yeast populations. Evolution 55: 909-917.

Zeyl, C. and J. A. G. M. DeVisser. 2001. Estimates of the rate and distribution of fitness effects of spontaneous mutation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics157: 53-61.

Zeyl, C. W. 2000.  Budding yeast as a model organism for population genetics. Yeast 16: 773-784.

de Visser, J. A. G. M., C. Zeyl, P. J. Gerrish, J. L. Blanchard and R. E. Lenski 1999. Diminishing returns from mutation supply   rate in asexual populations. Science 283: 404-406.

Zeyl, C. and G. Bell 1997. The advantage of sex in evolving yeast populations. Nature 388: 465-468

Zeyl, C., G. Bell, and D. M. Green 1996. Sex and the spread of retrotransposon Ty3 in experimental populations of Saccharomyces cerevisae. Genetics 143: 1567-1577

Zeyl, C. and G. Bell 1996. Symbiotic DNA in the eukaryotic genome. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 10-15


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