Génétique et Ecologie Evolutive
- Published: 11 April 2011
Directeur de recherche
Campus du CNRS
1919, route de Mende
34293 Montpellier 5
tél : +33/0 6 32 99 51 46
fax : +33/0 4 67 61 33 36
Mots clés : Biological organism: Molluscs - Environment: Continental waters - Discipline: Biology and evolutionary ecology - Techniques: Molecular ecology, genomics, experimental evolution, field monitoring, modeling.
Other keywords: Adaptation, evolutionary genetics, biological invasions, community ecology, biodiversity philosophy.
As an evolutionary biologist whose interests range from molecular evolution to community ecology, I can be defined as a "conceptual empiricist", i.e. I develop ideas, conduct experiments, bench and field work, based on theory, and collaborate with theorists. In order to get a comprehensive view of the issues I am interested in, I base my work on (i) a combination of laboratory experiments and fieldwork, to understand what is happening in nature, and (ii) consistent data sets, on a large scale both spatially and temporally, to be able to reach reliable conclusions about the hypotheses being tested. Since 1993, I have been working in close collaboration with Patrice David (see his web page).
I explore various themes in evolutionary and population biology on the one hand, and in community ecology on the other hand, as well as at the junction between populations and communities, always from an evolutionary perspective (see below). Bioinvasions are a central issue in my work at both levels of perception. I make extensive use of molecular markers (microsatellites and sequences, in particular NGS) and long-term field monitoring of biological communities in the French West Indies (initiated in 1993 in Martinique and 1999 in Guadeloupe; several hundred sites). Although I have been interested in many biological groups (animals, plants, bacteria), my main study models are freshwater gastropods (families Hygrophilae and Caenogastropods). My study model in the laboratory is the hermaphrodite Pulmonates Physa acuta (see photo); we have been maintaining experimental evolutionary lines of this species since 2008 (5-6 generations / year).
In population biology, I am interested in the relationships between genotypes and phenotypes, the evolution of reproductive systems and life traits, sexual selection and forces acting on population structure. Work on reproductive systems focuses largely on the evolution of self-fertilization and its consequences, such as the reduction of inbreeding depression or waiting time before self-fertilization, or on the evolutionary potential of self-fertilization. This work is in line with my concerns regarding sexual selection in hermaphrodites via the notion of allocation to sexual functions. All of this work is based on studies of the genetic structure of populations of several species, taking into account the interaction between reproduction systems, demography and genetic diversity, linked by the concept of metapopulation.
My work in (evolutionary) community ecology largely echoes that of population biology, the objective being to characterize the forces structuring metacommunities (extinction/colonization, migration, competition...) by taking into account species traits and reproductive systems, and interactions with environmental parameters (e.g. water levels). We also try to understand the forces/factors acting jointly at both levels, populations and communities (e.g. connectivity), through the analysis of diversity patterns and their relationships, but also by analyzing how the evolution or demography of one species can trigger rapid changes in other species. Bioinvasions can be considered as a particular example in this general framework: the establishment of a new species may be due to factors intrinsic to that species (e.g. accumulation of genetic variance before invasion), but may also have important consequences on the functioning and evolution of the metacommunity. This aspect is particularly relevant in our fields of study in the West Indies since half of the species are introduced.
Physa acuta - This species is native to North America, and has invaded the entire planet in the last 200 years, to be the most ubiquitous species of freshwater gastropod today. Easy to handle in the laboratory, its short life cycle (about 2-3 months) makes it an interesting model for experimental work, especially experimental evolution.
PhD supervisor (* co-supervisor with P. David)
Currently supervising :
- Solange Haas (2019-2022; co-supervisor : P. Huneman) (Université Paris Sorbonne) (theme: prediction in ecology from a philosophical perspective)
I (co)supervised the following theses :
- Flobert NJIOKOU (1988-1992) (now: professor, Yaoundé University, Cameroon) (theme: population structure and mating systems in Bulinus species)
- Claudie DOUMS (1992-1995) (now: professor EPHE at ESE, Paris, France) (theme: the evolution of aphally, a sexual polymorphism, in snails)
- Patrice DAVID (1993-1996) (now: directeur de recherche CNRS, CEFE, Montpellier, France) (theme: heterozygosity-fitness correlations: theory and tests in a clam species)
- Frédérique VIARD (1993-1996) (now: directeur de recherche CNRS, Roscoff biological station, Roscoff, France) (theme: the role of self-fertilization on population genetic structure)
- Sarah SAMADI (1993-1997) (now: professor, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France) (theme: species and speciation in a parthenogenetic species)
- Cyril DUTECH (1998-2001) (now: chargé de recherche INRA, BIOGECO, Bordeaux, France) (theme: testing the refuge theory in the Amazonian basin using genetic diversity in a tree species)
- Nathalie CHARBONNEL (1998-2001) (now: directeur de recherche INRA, CBGP, Montpellier, France) (theme: a genetical and demographic perspective on metapopulation structure in hermaphroditic snails)
- Anne TSITRONE* (1998-2001) (now: professional lyric singer) (theme: consequences of inbreeding on heterozygosity-fitness correlations and life-history evolution)
- Ghita CHLYEH (1997-2002) (now: professor, zoology dept, IAV, Rabat, Morocco) (theme: population genetics and dynamics of freshwater snails, vectors of schistosomiasis)
- Jesus MAVAREZ (1998-2002) (now: chargé de recherche CNRS, LECA, Grenoble) (theme: population dynamics and mating system evolution in snails)
- Pierre-Yves HENRY (1999-2002) (now: professor Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Fonctionnement, Evolution et Mécanismes Régulateurs des Ecosystèmes Forestier,s Paris, France) (theme: population dynamics and mating system evolution in snails)
- Marie-France OSTROWSKI* (1999-2002) (no more in research) (theme: evolution of sexual polymorphisms in snails)
- Benoît FACON* (2000-2003) (now: chargé de recherche INRA, PVBMT, La Réunion) (theme: invasion biology and life-history variation in snails)
- Guillaume MARTIN (2001-2005) (now: chargé de recherche CNRS, ISEM, Montpellier, France) (theme: dynamics of adaptation – from theory to experimental validation)
- Celine MIR (2000-2005) (now: ???) (theme: hybridization and genetic introgression in Mediterranean oak species)
- Guillaume EPINAT (2002-2007 // never completed) (now: music player, Lyon, France) (theme: the evolution of selfing in variable environments)
- Sebastien LECLERCQ (2004-2007) (now: chargé de recherche Inrae, ISP, Tours, France) (theme: the origin and evolution of microsatellites in eukaryotic genomes)
- François MASSOL* (2004-2007) (now: directeur de recherché CNRS, Lille, France) (theme: a theoretical approach of the influence of environmental changes on population and community dynamics)
- Benjamin PELISSIE* (2007-2010) (now: assistant professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA) (theme : sexual selection in hermaphrodites : an experimental approach in freshwater snails)
- Thomas LAMY* (2008-2011) (now: chargé de recherche IRD, Marbec, Montpellier, France). (theme : from population genetics to community ecology: a case study in freshwater snails from the Lesser Antilles).
- Fabien LAROCHE* (2011-2014) (now: chargé de recherche Inrae, Dynafor, Toulouse, France). (theme: diversity patterns, from genes to species, in metacommunities: the contribution of a quasi-neutral theory).
- Elsa NOEL* (2012-2015) (now: post-doctoral associate, Isem, Montpellier, France). (theme: evolution and consequences of self-fertilization: an experimental approach in freshwater snails).
- Maxime DUBART* (2016-2019) (now: post-doctoral associate, Lille) (theme: metacommunities: data and models)
I have also been strongly involved in the theses of:
- Anne CHARMANTIER (2000-2003) (now: directrice de recherche CNRS, CEFE, France) (theme: natural selection and extra-pair paternities in wild populations of birds)
- Juan ESCOBAR* (2005-2008) (now: researcher in a private company, Medellin, Colombia) (theme: genetic architecture, mating systems and senescence in hermaphroditic snails)
- Josh AULD (2003-2008) (now: associate-professor, Chester university, Pennsylvania, USA) (theme: plasticity, mating systems and predation: inferences from freshwater snails)
- Yves-Nathan TIAN-BI (2005-2009) (now: assistant-professor, University of Cocody, Abidjan, Ivory Coast) (theme : mating systems, life-history traits and population structure in a highly selfing snail)