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Dr Yannick Wurm
Lecturer in Bioinformatics

Location: Room 5.17, Fogg Building
Phone: +44 (0)20 7882 3049

For full information about Yannick's work, his laboratory and latest news visit his research website.

1. Evolutionary genomics of social insects 

Extensive theoretical work has explained how and why complex societies evolve. However, only little is known about the genes and molecular mechanisms responsible for social phenotypes. We have been identifying genes and mechanisms involved in the evolution of insect societies using modern genomics tools (Illumina, RNAseq, RADseq etc). For example we recently:

  • Sequenced and analyzed the genome of the invasive red fire ant Solenopsis invicta (PNAS 2011)
  • Discovered that a fundamental social trait in this species (how many queens are accepted in the colony) is determined by variants of a social chromosome (Nature 2013).
  • Described the gene expression changes that occur in a virgin queen when she is given the opportunity of replacing her mother (Mol Ecol 2010).
    We are interested in themes including the genetics of behavior, the interplay between social evolution and genome evolution, and the molecular mechanisms responsible for differences between castes.

2. Genomics & Bioinformatics for emerging model organisms

 The recent 10,000-fold drop in the cost of DNA sequencing means that any lab can sequence anything - and lots of it. This brings exciting opportunities but also new challenges. We develop innovative tools and approaches to facilitate modern biological work on emerging model organisms. For example:

  • BLAST is the most commonly used bioinformatics tool. But setting it up for private data and using it is counter-intuitive. We're developing SequenceServer to make BLAST easy to use.
  • Sequencing genomes has become straightforward. But you quickly realize that most gene predictions need to be inspected and many need to be manually fixed before performing analyses. This makes multi-species, multi-gene analyses very challenging. We are developing infrastructure to obtain help for this using crowd-sourcing.

Research department

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