Research projects

Genetics of adaptation of the common lizard

Common lizard

Since the 90s, a common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) population is monitored yearly on the Mont-Lozère (France). A pedigree of the population is reconstructed using micro-satellites (e.g. to infer paternities). I am continuing this survey initiated by Jean Clobert, with a focus on the genetics of adaptation of the population.

My main questions are:

  • What are the selective factors impacting the population? Which traits are adaptive, i.e. subjected to those selective factors?
  • What are the genetic bases of these adaptive traits? This question can be answered without (heritability, genetic correlation between traits) or with genomics (genetic architecture of the traits).
  • What is the adaptive potential in the population? How is it expected to respond to selection on the long run?
  • What are the phenotypic traits that are involved in the response of population of climate change and what are the mechanisms involved?

The first three questions are tackled within the ORACLE ANR project, in which we will characterise the selection acting various traits, their phenotypic plasticity and their genetic architecture (using both quantitative genetics and genomics approaches). A large model will then be implemented, accounting for selection, plasticity and an explicit model of their genetic architecture, to study the long-term evolution of the traits in the long-term, and the consequences for the population dynamics in a long-term climate change perspective.

The last question is tackled within the TIPEX ANR project, in collaboration with Jean-François Le Galliard, Sandrine Meylan, Julien Cote and Olivier Lourdais. The general aim of the project is to understand the tipping-point from a stable to a declining population in this species, notably the link between warming, faster pace-of-life, shorter telomeres and population decline.

Crossing a lot of those questions, and in collaboration with Sandrine Meylan and Jean-François Le Galliard, we are supervising the PhD project of Théo Bodineau at iEES in Paris. Théo is interested in the causes and consequences of inter-individual variation in the breeding phenology of the common lizard, using both experimental and in situ correlative approaches.

Genetic architecture of quantitative traits

A very important aspect of the genetic architecture of quantitative traits (traits influenced by a large number of loci, named quantitative trait loci, or QTL) is the distribution of the effect of each QTL. The shape of such distribution has important evolutionary consequences, but we have little access to it, because of most methods do not distinguish between markers and QTL. Yet, QTL are not all SNPs, so considering only SNPs as putative QTL will yield a distorted inference of the distribution of the QTL effects. Within the EvoGenArch ANR project, I am currently starting projects to quantify the impact of such problem and design a solution for it.

Between-population quantitative genetics

In collaboration with Jérôme Goudet and Oscar Gaggiotti, we started the PhD project of Isabela de O in the University of Lausanne to study better the behaviour of tools to perform between-population quantitative genetics, and see whether we can develop better tools.