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Clémentine Francois

Post-Doctorant(e) Team Phylogeny and molecular evolution
Localization Bât 22, RdC
Mots clés molecular evolution comparative genomics adaptation evolutionary ecology stable isotopes.

After a PhD at the interface between comparative genomics and trophic ecology, my current research activities focus on genome evolution under asexual reproduction in metazoa.

Sexual reproduction implies substantial costs for the organisms (eg. search for sexual partners, ‘two-fold cost of sex’), however this reproductive mode is widespread among metazoa. It has been hypothesized that sexual reproduction is so pervasive due to the selective advantages resulting from syngamy and recombination.

At the opposite, asexual reproduction should theoretically represent an evolutionary dead end due to reduced genetic variability, clonal interference and/or segregation of deleterious mutations present on the same haplotype as beneficial ones.

Challenging these views, a few animals are suspected to be ancient asexuals. The long-term persistence of such asexual lineages thus represents what has been termed an “evolutionary scandal”, raising the question of what singularities may have allowed them to persist and diversify in the absence of sex.

My post-doctoral project (in collab. with T. Schwander & M. Robinson-Rechavi, Lausanne) is based on several pairs of sexual / asexual arthropod species (genome and transcriptome analyses). This comparative design allows to study the genomic consequences of long-term asexuality (by comparing asexual species to their sexual sister-species) and to search for specific molecular mecanisms « compensating » for the absence of sex.

  1. Francois CM, Mermillod‐Blondin F, Malard F, Fourel F, Lécuyer C, Douady CJ, Simon L (2016). Trophic ecology of groundwater species reveals specialization in a low‐productivity environment. Functional Ecology, 30, 262–273.
  2. Francois CM, Duret L, Simon L, Mermillod-Blondin F, Malard F, Konecny-Dupré L, Planel R, Penel S, Douady CJ, Lefébure T (2016). No evidence that nitrogen limitation influences the elemental composition of isopod transcriptomes and proteomes. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33, 2605-2620.