Personal Web Site
3306 SPIETH HALL
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521
(951) 827-5011 (Voice)
(951) 827-4286 (Fax)
(951) 827-5903 (Dept)
Professor of Biology
Director EE GRU
- College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Professor of Biology
(Ph.D., University of Nottingham, England 1977
Post-doctoral research, Princeton University)
- PhD Genetics 1977
- University of Nottingham
My research is in population and evolutionary genetics, with an emphasis on the application of basic theory to practical problems. Projects include:
* The population genetics of small conserved populations. Current areas of emphasis: effective population size, adaptation in a changing environment, and the role of wildlife linkages in long-term conservation strategies.
* The theory of selection at different levels of organization, such as individual cell versus individual organism versus group. Current emphasis: population genetics of cancer.
* The role of genetic trade-offs in life history evolution, using primarily Drosophila. Current emphasis: sperm competition.
* The application of evolutionary theory to pest control. Current emphasis: a genomic study of the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease of grapevines (Xylella fastidiosa)).
I am the Director of the Evolution and Ecology GRU (Graduate Research Umbrella). The GRU fosters interactions among graduate students, researchers, and faculty across departmental boundaries. I am a member of the Center for Conservation Biology, which promotes conservation research. I participate in the Evolutionary Biology track of the Biology graduate program and in the Genetics Interdepartmental graduate program.
Additional information on current research….
Conservation genetics: Basic research in conservation genetics is essential to designing and managing rare and endangered species. For some time I have been developing theory for understanding the relationship between population size and its genetic equivalent, effective population size (Ne). Ne is central in determining how much genetic variation is maintained in a population. I have been investigating how wildlife corridors can be used to maximize Ne and, in doing so, facilitate the adaptation necessary for a population to persist in the face of a changing environment. Related empirical work has included a study of genetic variation in the endangered species Stephens' kangaroo rat, Dipodomys stephensi.
Levels of selection and cancer: From an evolutionary perspective, cancer cells are selfish elements that destroy the social group (the individual). Starting from this perspective, I have developed a model of multistage carcinogenesis and used it to develop a predictive framework for understanding the evolution of cancer suppression. In particular, it allowed me to provide the first insights into the factors that determine the frequency of inherited cancers.
Sperm competition in Drosophila: Female Drosophila store sperm and males have evolved mechanisms for both male-male sperm competition and male manipulation of female behavior, primarily through seminal fluid proteins called Acps (accessory proteins). It has been suggested that sperm competition drives a coevolutionary cycle between males and females that may be important in driving speciation (the sexual conflict hypothesis). We are testing some of the predictions of this model using a combination of behavioral tests and DNA sequencing to compare two partially isolated strains of D. melanogaster, the cosmopolitan and Zimbabwe strains.
A genomic study of Xylella fastidiosa, the bacterium causing Pierce’s Disease: The bacterium X. fastidiosa has a number of genetically distinct host-plant strains. Using data from the complete genome, we are investigating the genetic differences between these host strains to identify the genes responsible for pathogenicity, by identifying the signature of adaptive evolution
Population Genetics and Conservation
* Nunney, L. 2003 The cost of natural selection revisited. Ann. Zool. Fenn. In Press.
* Nunney, L. 2002 The effective size of annual plant populations: the interaction of a seed bank with fluctuating plant numbers. Amer. Natur. 160: 195-204.
* Reznick, D. N., L. Nunney, and H. Rodd. 2002 Empirical evidence for rapid evolution. In "Evolutionary Conservation Biology" (D. Couvet, U. Diekman, and R. Ferrier, eds). Cambridge Univ. Press. 30ms pp.
* Metcalf, A. E., Nunney, L. and Hyman, B. C. 2001 Geographic patterns of genetic differentiation within the restricted range of the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat, Dipodomys stephensi. Evolution 55: 1233-1244.
* Nunney, L. 2000 The limits to knowledge in conservation genetics: the value of effective population size. Evol. Biol. 32:179-194.
* Nunney, L. 1999 The effective size of a hierarchically structured population. Evolution 53: 1-10.
Levels of Selection - Theory and Applications
* Nunney, L. 2003 The population genetics of multistage carcinogenesis. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. In Press.
* Stouthamer, R., M. van Tilborg, H. de Jong, L. Nunney & R.F. Luck. 2001 Selfish element maintains sex in natural populations of a parasitoid wasp. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 268:617-622
* Nunney, L. 1999 Lineage selection and the evolution of multistep carcinogenesis. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 266:493-498.
Life History Evolution
* Reznick, D., C. Ghalambor and L. Nunney. 2002 The evolution of senescence in fish. Mech. Ageing Dev. 123:773-789.
* McKean , K. A. and L. Nunney. 2001 Increased sexual activity reduces male immunocompetence in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Nat. Acad.Sci. 98:7904-7909.
* Reznick, D. N., Nunney, L. and Tessier, A. 2000 Big houses, big cars, and the cost of reproduction. Trends Ecol. Evol. 15: 421-425.
Evolution and Pest Control
* Nunney, L. 2003 Managing small populations: a population genetic perspective. In "Quality Control and Production of Biological Control Agents: Theory and Testing Procedures" (Ed. J. C. van Lenteren) CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK. Pp73-87.
* Luck, R.F., L. Nunney and R. Stouthamer. 1999 Factors affecting sex ratio and quality in the culturing of parasitic hymenoptera: a genetic and evolutionary perspective. In "A Handbook of Biological Control" T.W. Fisher, T. S. Bellows, L.E. Caltagirone, D.L. Dahlsten, C.B. Huffaker, and G. Gordh (Eds.) Academic Press pp653-672.