Dr Barbara Mable
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine
College of Medicine, Veterinary & Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
Tel.: +44 (0)141 330 3532
Research Interests - Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
Evolutionary genetics of mating systems in plants. Evolutionary consequences of polyploidy in plants and animals. Molecular ecology of birds, mammals, plants, and fish.
Research in my laboratory is directed towards understanding how changes at the molecular level affect cellular and whole organism processes in a wide range of organisms (Figure 1). My main focus has been study of the genetic and ecological consequences of a particularly extreme form of genetic change- whole genome duplication or polyploidy- but I am also interested in the consequences of gene duplication at the level of gene families that control recognition processes, such as plant self-incompatibility systems (SI) and the vertebrate Major Histocompatibilty Complex (MHC).
I am particularly interested in how such genomic changes affect interactions between organisms, such as mate choice and pathogen response. My own research has concentrated on three major areas :
1) the evolutionary dynamics of gene families involved in recognition systems
2) the causes and consequences of changes in mating systems for genetic diversity and adaptation
3) the consequences of mating system variation and polyploidy for mate recognition and pathogen response
Figure 1. Polyploidy in (a) Hyla versicolor, (b) Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and (c) Arabidopsis lyrata.
Research Student Projects
In addition, collaboration with others continues to take my research in new directions, predominantly through shared postgraduate research projects, including:
1) Lucy Webster (PhD, 2002-2005): using molecular approaches to understand mating systems and resistance evolution in nematodes of red grouse (with Dr. Lukas Keller, University of Zurich, Dr. Paul Johnson, Robertson Institute for Biostatistics)
2) Veronica Neves (PhD, 2002-2006), Fiona Savory (MRes: 2005-2006) using variation in molecular characters to understand bird migration and species status (with Prof. R. Furness, Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, DEEB)
3) Ashley Le Vin (PhD, 2006-2010): assessing the importance and mechanisms of kin recognition in cooperatively breeding fish (with Dr. K. Arnold, DEEB)
4) Clare Marsden (PhD 2006-2010): using variation at the MHC as a proxy for adaptive variation in captive and free-living African Wild Dogs (with Dr. D. Haydon, DEEB; Dr. S. Cleaveland, DEEB & the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. L. Kennedy, University of Manchester; Mr. R. Thomas, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo)
5) Peter Hoebe (PhD 2006-2009): Investigating whether pathogen response systems in plants are affected by inbreeding or loss of self-incompatibility (with Prof. E. Holub, University of Warwick)
6) Andy Tedder (PhD 2007-2010): comparing the consequences of mating system shifts between different species of cruciferous plants in relation to phylogeography (with Dr. Steve Ansell, Natural History Museum London)
7) Marte Jørgensen (PhD, University of Oslo, 2006-2011): evaluating the origins and diversity of polyploid plants in Europe and the arctic (Primary Supervisor: Anne Brysting, University of Oslo)
8) Jared Bakuza (PhD, 2009-2012): assessing epidemiology and population dynamics in nematodes affecting multiple primate species in Tanzania (with Prof. Mike Stear, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflamation; Prof. Gamba Nkwengulila, University of Dar Es Salaam))
9) Emanuela Sani (PhD, 2009-2012); evaluating the potential that plants are capable of "remembering" previous stresses through epigenetic mechanisms (Primary Supervisor: Anna Amtmman, Plant Sciences)
10) Anna Muir (PhD, 2009-2012): assessing potential for local adaptation in relation to changing climates in Scottish mountain populations of the common frog (Rana temporaria) in Scotland (with Dr. Roman Biek, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM); Mr. R. Thomas, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo)
11) John Hume (PhD 2009-2012): evaluating evidence for ecological speciation in Scottish populations of freshwater lampreys (Primary Supervisor: Prof. Colin Adams, IBAHCM; with Colin Bean, Scottish Natural Heritage).
12) Vrushali Patil (MRes 2010-2011): quantifying patterns of genetic diversity of aspen trees in Scotland using microsatellite markers (with Dr. Mark Bailey, School of Life Sciences)
13) Mamatha Doreswamy (MRes 2010-2011) assessing the genetic basis of variation in response to the oomycete pathogen Albugo candidans in Arabidopsis lyrata
14) Katie Sealey (PhD, 2011-2014) investigating how the interaction between parasite life history strategies and control measures affects rates of resistance evolution in nematodes (with Dr. Jan Lindström, IBAHCM; Dr. Paul Johnson, Robertson Centre for Biostatistics).
Figure 2. Some subjects of collaborative projects: (a) Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris); (b) African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) on the Serengeti plains, photograph taken by Anne Hillborn, Serengeti Cheetah Project; c) Cooperatively breeding cichlid (Neoloamprologus pulcher).
Molecular Ecology Unit
I also oversee a shared Molecular Ecology Unit, which is run by Kate Griffiths and Aileen Adam. Research by this group has been predominantly focused on bird sexing but recently we have moved into other areas of molecular ecology such as mtDNA sequence analysis and microsatellite DNA genotyping.
At Glasgow, I have supervised undergraduate projects on a diversity of subjects, most related to using molecular characters to study population biology. Students marked with an asterisk went on to do PhDs shortly after completing their degrees.
1) *Victoria McNab, Zoology (Co-supervisor with Willie Weir 2005-2006), "Examining parasite diversity in relation to water quality in Scottish sticklebacks"
2) Michael Perkins, Zoology (Co-supervisor with Willie Weir 2005-2006), "Examining parasite diversity between lake and river populations of Scottish Sticklebacks"
3) Adam Hastie, Zoology (Co-supervisor with Dan Haydon 2005-2006), "Assessing diversity of sphagnum mosses in Scotland"
4) David Green, Genetics (Supervisor 2006-2007) "Phylogeography of Arabidopsis lyrata in the Great Lakes Region"
5) David Trundell, Zoology (Supervisor 2006-2007) "Mitochondrial DNA diversity in race horses"
6) Jenna Greer, Zoology (Supervisor 2006-2007), "Comparison of extraction methods for noninvasive sampling techniques in dogs" (Supervised by Clare Marsden)
7) Lesley Cleathero, Directed Studies, Exchange Student from University of British Columbia (Feb.-June, 2006), "Assessing diversity of self-incompatibility genes in polyploid Arabidopsis lyrata"
8) Lucia Allen, Summer student, Genetics (Summer 2007), "Characterising blood parasites in blue tits from Loch Lomond"
9) Kirsty Inglis, Genetics, (Supervisor 2007-2008), "Genetic diversity and molecular sexing of Scottish sticklebacks"; Summer Student (May-July 2008), funded by the University Federation for Animal Welfare, "Comparison of noninvasive sampling techniques for assessing MHC diversity in canids" (Supervised by Clare Marsden)
10) Andrew McBride, Summer Student, (Summer 2008), funded by the Genetics Society, "Developing species identification tools for Anasakid worms infecting Scottish fish"
11) Ksenia Kourbatskaya, Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Glasgow, Funded by a Dobie Smith Prize in Plant Biology (Summer 2009), "Variation at WRR4, a candidate gene for resistance to Albugo, in relation to host responses in inbreedin,g and outcrossing populations of Arabidopsis lyrata"
12) Brian Hunter, Undergraduate Research Assistant, funded by a Genes and Development Summer Student scholarship from the Genetics society (was also offered funding from the Nuffield Foundation, and an internal FBLS scholarship) (Summer 2009), "Mutational load in North American outcrossing populations of Arabidopsis lyrata?" (Supervised by Marc Stift)
13) *Ben Shaw, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Summer 2009), "Mutational load in North American outcrossing populations of Arabidopsis lyrata?" (Supervised by Marc Stift)
14) *Xintian Lao, Chinese exchange student, supported by the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IASTE) (Summer 2009), "Do populations of Arabis alpina with a low Fis have a functional self-incompatibility system?" (Supervised by Andy Tedder)
15) *Mark Braceland, Zoology (Co-supervisor with Mike Stear 2009-2010), "Genetic diversity of MHC genes in domestic sheep"
16) Laura Murphy, Genetics, (Supervisor 2009-2010), "Diversity of SRK alleles in relation to mating system variation in North American populations of Arabidopsis lyrata"
17) Helen Boyle, Zoology, (Supervisor 2009-2010), "Diagnostic PCR for identifying host (snails) and parasite (schisostomes) species"
18) Kirsi Mari Järvi, Undergraduate Research Assistant, funded by a Genes and Development Summer Student scholarship from the Genetics society and the University of Oulu (Summer 2010), "Diversity of SRK alleles in relation to mating system variation in North American populations of Arabidopsis lyrata"
19) Ryan Carter, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Funded by a Dobie Smith Prize in Plant Biology (Summer 2010), ), "Segregation of SRK alleles in self-incompatible Arabis alpina”; also hired as a research assistant (January 2011-present, "Assessing the impact of plant mating system and ploidy in adaptation to parasitism in changing environments”
20) Romaine Furston-Evans, Zoology (Supervisor 2010-2011), "Pathogens of Scottish frogs: Ranavirus screening and micro-habitat effect on strains of Saprolegnia in Rana temporaria"
21) Sarah-Jayne Mackin, Genetics (Supervisor 2010-2011), "Linkage, functionality and dominance of genes at the self-incompatibility locus in North American populations of Arabidopsis lyrata"
22) Jessica Fordyce, Zoology (Supervisor: 2011-2012), "The effects of climate change on distributions of an invasive sea weed (Sargassum muticum) in Scotland"
23) Robert Gillespie, Zoology (Supervisor: 2011-2012), TBC
24) Anne Morecraft, Genetics (Supervisor: 2011-2013), TBC
Current Lab Members
Postdoctoral Research Fellows:
Dr. James Buckley (2011-2013), Funded by NERC
Project: "Assessing the impact of plant mating system and ploidy in adaptation to parasitism in changing environments"
Former: University of Glasgow:
Dr. Paul Johnson (2004-2006), Funded by the Leverhulme Trust
Project: "Estimating gene flow in a parasitic nematode of red grouse"
Current Location: The Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, U. Glasgow
Dr. Karim Gharbi (2006), Funded by a Wellcome Value in People Award
Project: "The evolution of duplicate genes in salmonids"
Current Location:: The GenePool, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Hong-Guang Zha (2007-2008), Funded by BBSRC
Project: Levering the genome sequences of two Arabidopsis relatives for evolutionary and ecological genomics
Current Location: Kunming institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science
Dr. Marc Stift (2007-2010), Funded by NERC
Project: "Mating systems and genetic diversity in Arabidopsis lyrata"
Current Location: University of Konstanz
Dr. Annabelle Haudry (2008-2010), Funded by BBSRC
Project: "Levering the genome sequences of two Arabidopsis relatives for evolutionary and ecological genomics"
Current Location: University of Toronto
Our research has been supported by three highly qualified senior research technicians: Aileen Adam, Elizabeth Kilbride, and Kate Griffiths, each of whom has played a central role in various projects.
Former Lab Members
Former Lab Members: University of Guelph
- Nadia Prigoda, MSc Student 2002-2004
Thesis: Phenotypic and molecular expression of self-incompatibility alleles in Arabidopsis lyrata
- Jennifer Fabrizi, MSc Student 2001-2003
Project: Stability of polyploidy in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- Paul Kron [firstname.lastname@example.org], Research Associate 2001-2005
Projects: Developing flow cytometry methods for plants, self and cross-pollinations to establishing strength of SI in Arabidopsis lyrata
- Laura Witham, Undergraduate Research Assistant 2003-2005
Project: Inheritance of loss of self-incompatibility in natural populations of Arabidopsis lyrata
- Alex Robertson, Research Assistant 2003-2004
Project: Developing microsatellite methods and establishing outcrossing rates in Arabidopsis lyrata
- Christina DiBerardo, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2002-2004
Project: Genotyping S-alleles in diploid and tetraploid populations of Arabidopsis lyrata
- Sara Dart, Undergraduate Research Assistant 2002-2004
Project: Developing chromosome techniques, establishing outcrossing rates in natural populations of Arabidopsis lyrata through self-pollinations
- Jaclyn Beland, Undergraduate Research Assistant 2001-2002
Project: Segregation and dominance of S-alleles in tetraploid populations of Arabidopsis lyrata