Swanson Lab

University of Washington

Department of Genome Sciences


We study the evolution of reproductive proteins, from mechanisms of adaptive evolution to the functional consequences of natural genetic differences.

A recurring observation in the study of reproductive proteins is their rapid, adaptive evolution. This phenomenon occurs in organisms as diverse as diatoms and humans. The long-term goal of our research is to understand the diversity of reproductive proteins and the functional consequences of their divergence, which could involve problems in fertility and speciation due to a mismatch of sperm-egg recognition molecules.

We work with a variety of organisms, including Drosophila, abalone (Haliotis), and mammals. A common theme throughout our research is identifying genes subjected to positive selection (adaptive evolution), indicating potentially functionally important candidate genes.

Once identified using comparative genomic approaches, these rapidly evolving proteins are targets for further functional characterization.