There are three major research topics in my lab:
(1)Genetic basis of primate diversity and human origins.
We use bioinformatic as well as experimental approaches to identify human-specific genetic changes that are of fundamental importance to the origin of our species. We are also studying the evolution of sensory genes (pheromone and taste receptors) in primates and other mammals.
(2)Yeast as an evolutionary model organism.
We are using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its relatives as model organisms to understand a variety of evolutionary processes, including questions about (i) the molecular basis of adaptation, (ii) genic and genomic bases of reproductive isolation, (iii) mechanisms of retention and functional divergence of duplicate genes after individual gene duplication and genome-wide duplication, (iv) evolutionary forces and molecular mechanisms of transcriptome evolution, (v) natural selection on and evolutionary consequences of gene expression noise, and (vi) fitness effects of random mutations.
(3)Evolutionary systems biology.
Using systems biology approaches, we analyze publicly available functional genomic data to characterize and understand pleiotropy, redundancy, epistasis, and other important genetic and evolutionary phenomena.
I also encourage students and postdoctoral fellows to develop their own projects in the general area of molecular and genomic evolution.
- Jianzhi George Zhang -