Prof Barbara Mable

Prof Barbara Mable

Professor of Evolutionary Genetics

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
Email: Barbara.Mable@glasgow.ac.uk

Research Interests

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). Most of my early work focused on the genetic and ecological consequences of a particularly extreme form of genetic change- whole genome duplication or polyploidy- but I have also been interested in the consequences of gene duplication at the level of gene families that control recognition processes involved in adaptation, such as plant self-incompatibility systems (SI), plant resistance genes, and the vertebrate immune genes (e.g. the Major Histocompatibilty Complex, MHC). I am particularly interested in how such genomic changes affect interactions between organisms, such as mate choice and pathogen responses. Some of my primary areas of interest have been: 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; and 3) the consequences of mating system variation and polyploidy for mate recognition and pathogen response.

However, research within the group has also focused on a wider range of other topics, focused on conservation genetics, adaptation to changing environments, and understanding drivers of biotic interactions (including host-vector-pathogen systems, microbiome diversity, and evolution of resistance). I have also supervised master's and undergraduate projects on a wide range of subjects, mostly related to systematics and molecular ecology. There has thus been a shift in my focus recently more towards thinking about the relative importance of genetic variation in general: how critical is it for adaptation and can genetics be used effectively to inform management interventions for conservation and disease mitigation?

Current projects lead by PhD or Master’s students include: 1) assessing diversity of the rhizosphere of plants in the genus Brassica in relation to ploidy, mating system and population genetic structure (Elizabeth Mittell, PhD candidate); 2) developing molecular markers to inform translocation strategies for fenced populations of Southern White Rhinoceros in Botswana (Tarid Puriyosoto, PhD candidat); 3) assessing levels of genetic variation in protected populations of Northern Black Rhinoceros across Tanzania (Ronald Mellya, MSc); 4) investigating the genetic and ecological drivers of resistance in parasitic nematodes of sheep (Sam Brown, PhD candidate).

Figure 1.  Some of the research questions and study organisms that I have focused on: a) evolution of mating systems and polyploidy in grey treefrogs (Hyla versicolor); b) evolution of mating systems and polyploidy in rock cress (Arabidopsis lyrata); c) conservation genetics of African wild dogs; d) evolution of resistance to acaricides in European red mites (Panonychus ulmi); e) evolution of resistance to anthelmintics in nematodes infecting livestock; f) host-pathogen-vector dynamics (e.g. multiple species of tsetse flies feed on a wide range of wild and domestic hosts and can transmit multiple species of trypanosomes).

Academic History

Academic History

  • 2014-present Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow
  • 2011-2014 Reader, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow
  • 2007-2011 Senior Research Fellow, Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow
  • 2005-2006 NERC Advanced Research Fellow, Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow
  • 2004-2005 Lecturer, Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow
  • 2000-2005 Assistant Professor, Department of Botany, University of Guelph
  • 1998-2000 Postdoctoral Fellow, ICAPB, University of Edinburgh (BBSRC grant to Deborah Charlesworth)
  • 1996-1998 Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Zoology, University of British Columbia (Killam Memorial Fellowship to BKM and NSERC award to Sarah P. Otto)
  • 1992-1996 Ph.D. (Zoology) University of Texas at Austin
  • 1989-1991 Research Associate, Agriculture Canada Research Station Project: Genetics of resistance to acaricides in European Red Mites on apples.
  • 1987-1989 M.Sc. (Zoology) University of Guelph

Fellowships

Fellowships

  • Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship, 2004-2006 (Declined)
  • NERC Advanced Research Fellowship, University of Glasgow, 2004-2009
  • NSERC University Faculty Award, University of Guelph, 2000-2005
  • Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fellowship, University of British Columbia, 1996-1998

Current Teaching Responsibilities

  • Cluster Co-ordinator, Animal and Plant Sciences Postgraduate Taught Master’s (PGT) Programmes (since 2014)
  • PGT Co-ordinator for programmes offered through the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (since 2016)
  • Course Co-ordinator, Master’s Level: Key Research Skills; Conservation Genetics (since 2011)
  • Course Co-ordinator, Undergraduate: L3 Applied Evolution (since 2018)
  • Other undergraduate teaching: L2 Animal Biology, Evolution and Ecology (since 2018); L3 Tutorials (since 2004); L4 Evolution (since 2004)