Floyd A. Reed

Population Genetics Group, Rm. 166
Department of Evolutionary Genetics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
24306 Plön, Germany
Phone: ++49 (0)4522 763 297
Fax: ++49 (0)4522 763 281
E-mail: reed@evolbio.mpg.de

My notes on living in Germany and working at the MPI for non-EU-citizens.

Research Interests:

In the past I have worked on characterizing positive and negative selection in humans and fruitflies (this is almost the title of my thesis) and inferring human history from genetic data, with a focus on Africa and Oceania (the areas where, in my opinion, there is the greatest potential to fill in our gaps of knowledge about modern human history from genetic studies). The greatest overlap of these interests ocurred in a project studying the genetic basis of the parallel adaptation of adult milk consumption in East Africa and Europe (Tishkoff*, Reed* et al. 2007). I am still very much interested in these areas, but my current work is something a little different that builds on my interest in selfish genetic systems and experience with the Drosophila model.

Currently, our main focus and the majority of our resources are directed to a set of complementary projects to engineer a system capable of transforming wild popualtions with desirable alleles (see Sinkins and Gould 2006 for a review). This work is focused on the process of underdominance, where heterozygotes are less fit than homozygotes. Underdominance is simple; but is has a number of interesting properties including geographic stability and bistable reversability.

An illustration of underdominant dynamics in a single popualtion. Underdominant alleles starting at a high enough initial frequency in a population (above the threshold given by the dashed line) are predicted to proceed to fixation, even if the homozygote is less fit than the wildtype state. Thus it is possible to stably transform a popualtion with less fit alleles. This process is reversable, with releases of sufficient wildtype alleles to bring the allele frequency below the critical threshold, the process is expected to reverse and all alternative alleles will be stably removed from the population.

Two population dynamics. When popualtions are exchanging migrants there exists a critical migration rate below which the popualtions can be stable for reciprocal high and low underdominant allele frequencies. This is represented by the second bifurcation in the plot of allele frequencies versus migration rate which leads to the internal solid line that represents a stable equilibrium. Thus, if migration rates are not too high, underdominant alleles are not predicted to spread far beyond the initial population of release.

The directions we are working in include: We have a memorandum-of-understanding in place, signed prior to employment, to guide possible future commercialization of this technology and freely allow its potential use in research and for humanitarian purposes.

Our first manuscript on underdominance (Altrock et al. 2010) has been accepted! We expect to have many more in the near future.



* denotes an equal contribution.


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Revised: Friday, Aug. 9, 2010