I am most interested in the relative roles of chance and necessity in evolution. There are two major research areas in my lab.
Yeast as an experimental system for studying evolution
We are using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its relatives model organisms to understand a variety of evolutionary processes, including questions about (i) the genetic basis of phenotypic variations among strains and species, (ii) molecular and genomic bases of heterosis, (iii) evolutionary forces and molecular mechanisms of transcriptome evolution, (iv) position effects on gene expression level and noise, (v) fitness landscape of mutations, (vi) genic basis of reproductive isolation, and (vii) mistranslation in protein synthesis.
II. Computational evolutionary genomics.
Using evolutionary, genomic, and/or systemic approaches, we analyze publicly available data to characterize and understand pleiotropy, robustness, epistasis, gene-environment interaction, gene expression noise, translational regulation, RNA editing, convergent evolution, adaptation, origin of new genes, among-protein evolutionary rate variation, and other important genetic and evolutionary phenomena. We are not limited in the study organism in this line of research, but most often analyze functional genomic data from yeasts and mammals. Projects may also involve modeling and simulation.
I also encourage students and postdoctoral fellows to develop their own projects in the general area of evolutionary genetics/genomics.
- Jianzhi George Zhang -