Museum of Comparative Zoology Laboratories 111

Population Genetics

Professor Lewontin's laboratory studies a diversity of problems in population genetics and the dynamics of evolutionary processes by integrating laboratory experiments with field and theoretical investigations. Current work concerns characterizing the genetic variation in natural populations of different species of organisms using such techniques as gel electrophoresis, immunology, protein finger-printing, heat sensitivity, and DNA sequencing. The frequency of different alleles has been detected and measured at a large number of gene loci in different organisms. Since the amount and kind of variation have been characterized precisely, the laboratory is now attempting to determine the forces that control the variation. Several experimental techniques are being applied, both in nature and in the laboratory, to measure natural selection, if it is operating, to determine how much migration occurs between populations, and to study the breeding structure of natural populations. From these measurements, it should be possible to reconstruct the dynamics of the evolution of genetic variations.

Theoretical studies are using analytic mathematical tools, numerical methods, and computer simulation to unravel how various genetic systems evolve under different circumstances of natural selection and breeding structure.

Lewontin, R.C. 1989. Inferring the number of evolutionary events from DNA coding sequence differences. Mol. Biol. Evol. 6(1): 15-32.

Lewontin, R.C. 1984. Detecting population differences in quantitative characters as opposed to gene frequencies. Amer. Nature 123: 115-124.

Ramshaw, J.A.M., J.A. Coyne and R.C. Lewontin. 1979. The sensitivity of gel electrophoresis as a detector of genetic variation. Genetics 93: 1019-1037.

Lewontin, R.C. 1995. The detection of linkage disequilibrium in molecular sequence data. Genetics 140: 377-388.