Laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Evolution

Our research is mainly focused on molecular analysis of the host-parasite co-evolution. It involves investigation of the population structure, diversity, biogeography, and adaptations of the hosts and their parasites using population genetic and genomic type of data. On a deeper evolutionary scale, we are also interested in the origin, evolution, and relationships of parasitic and symbiotic organisms.
Selected publications:
Martinů J., Štefka J., Poosakkannu A., Hypša V. (2020) "Parasite turnover zone” at secondary contact: a new pattern in host-parasite population genetics Molecular Ecology 29: 4653-4664.
DOI: 10.1111/mec.15653
Drábková  M., Jachníková N., Tyml T., Sehadová H., Ditrich O., Myšková E., Hypša V., Štefka J. (2019) Population co-divergence in common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) and its dicyemid parasite in the Mediterranean Sea. Scientific Reports 9: 14300.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-50555-9
Roumbedakis K. , Drábková  M., Tyml T., di Cristo C. (2019) A Perspective Around Cephalopods and Their Parasites, and Suggestions on How to Increase Knowledge in the Field. Frontiers in Physiology 9: 1573.
DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01573
Martinů J., Hypša V., Štefka J. (2018) Host specificity driving genetic structure and diversity in ectoparasite populations: co-evolutionary patterns in Apodemus mice and their lice Ecology and Evolution 8: 10008–10022.
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4424
Vlček J., Hoeck P., Keller L., Wayhart J., Dolinová J., Štefka J. (2016) Balancing selection and genetic drift create unusual patterns of MHCIIβ variation in Galápagos mockingbirds Molecular Ecology 25: 4757-4772.
DOI: 10.1111/mec.13807

All publications (105)

Current research projects

Population genomics of speciation and adaptation in parasites

We study genomic imprints of speciation and adaptation processes in two parasitic species, the tapeworm Ligula intestinalis and the bedbug Cimex lectularius. Despite differences in their ecology and evolution, both species show wide geographical range and many oportunities for emergence of specific adaptations (associated with host specificity in the tapeworm, or with insecticide resistance in the bedbug). Using SNP profiling, transcriptomis and WG sequencing we're evaluating the impact of geographic structuring and gene flow on adaptive processes in the two parasites (P.I.: J.Štefka).

Coevolution between Galápagos mockingbirds and their ectoparasites

Galapagos mockingbirds comprise four species of recently radiated passerines endemic to the Galapagos archipelago. Co-analysing mitochondrial and nuclear markers of mockingbirds and their ectoparasites the most likely scenario of colonisation of particular islands within the archipelago was reconstructed. Link between population size, geographical range and parasite load is being analysed using high-throughput sequencing of MHC genes and neutral multilocus markers. Obtaining knowledge of MHC gene diversity is also of conservation interest, since several species of mockingbirds are threatened or even extinct in their original area of distribution (e.g. Floreana mockingbird). (P.I.: J. Štefka) 

Population genetics, demography and molecular evolution in rodents and their parasites

Adaptive and co-speciation components of host-parasite coevolution are studied in rodents and their parasites. Two rodent groups (voles and wood-mice) and their ectoparasites (lice, mites) were selected as the model groups. Population structure is being analysed using mitochondrial genes and SNP profiling. Despite observing lineages with relatively strict degree of host specificity, only limited amount of co-speciation was seen in both parasitic groups. Hence, the adaptive component of evolution seems to be the major driver defining genetic differentiation. Currently, a newly discovered secondary contact zone in the louse Polyplax serrata (but lacking a corresponding SCZ in its host) is being explored using WG sequencing (P.Is.: V. Hypša and J. Štefka).


Evolution of symbiotic bacteria associated with arthropods

We are broadly interested in intracellular symbiotic bacteria and their arthropod hosts. The main goal of our research is complex characterization of symbiotic systems in several model insect groups using microscopy, genomic, transcriptomic, and phylogenomic methods. Our main questions involve genome evolution of both the host and its symbionts, their phylogeny and populational structure, and host-symbiont-pathogen interactions (P.Is.: V. Hypša and E. Nováková). 


Biology Centre CAS
Institute of Parasitology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice

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