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Benoit Nabholz

University lecturer Team Phylogénie et Evolution Moleculaire
Phone +33 (0)4 67 14 32 36
Localization Bâtiment 22, RDC, pièce 47
Mots clés Molecular evolution Population genomics Life-histories traits Birds Mammals

MASTER STUDENTS : If you are interested by my area of research, feel free to contact me. There are positions currently available!

Using phylogenetic and comparative methods I try to better understand how genomes evolve. Currently, my research projects include the following :

BirdIslandGenomic project

Oceanic islands provide great opportunities for studying biological evolution. In this project, we propose to investigate island evolution from the genomic point-of-view. Understanding the influence of population size variation on molecular evolution is currently a major topic in the field. Since island species have evolved in isolated and small populations, they provide an unique opportunity to study the impact of non-adaptive forces on biological evolution. More details could be find here.


From left to right: brown, gray-headed brown, and gray forms of the Reunion gray white-eye. (c) Photos: Borja Milá

From left to right: brown, gray-headed brown, and gray forms of the Reunion gray white-eye. (c) Photos: Borja Milá


Understanding the link between life-history traits variation and molecular evolution

I would like to understand how, and to which extend, a series of life-history traits, such as longevity, body-mass, generation time, “life style” and reproduction system, influence molecular evolution. When they vary, these traits are expected to have an impact on several evolutionary forces (i.e., mutation, drift, recombination) which in turn will influence genomes evolution.

Large species have the tendency to live longer and reach sexual maturity older than small species. Therefore large species are expected to have longer generation time and should show reduced substitution rate compared to smaller species. If this relationship seem to work for mammals, it is still debated for birds (where molecular clock is still largely used). Similarly, large animals are also expected to have, on average, smaller population size than small animals. Because population size affect genetic drift, large animals should not be able to eliminate slightly deleterious mutation as efficiently as small animals. Using large datasets of mitochondrial and nuclear loci, I’m testing the above expectation regarding the effect of body size on efficiency of selection and substitution rate variation in birds and mammals.

The genomic footprints of domestication

I’m part of the large ARCAD project where I focus on the comparative population genomic project. Datasets related to this project are available here.

Influence of base composition on phylogenetic

I have a general interesting in phylogenetic and molecular dating methods. Currently, I focus on the influence of base composition variation on phylogenetic reconstruction. I’m particularly interested in the birds phylogeny where the basal relationships among Neoaves (composed of all the living birds except Ratites and Galloanserae) is still unresolved.

Please visit my web page : https://sites.google.com/site/benoitnabholz/

Latest publications:

  • Allio R, Donega S, Galtier N and Nabholz B. 2017. Large variation in the ratio of
    mitochondrial to nuclear mutation rate across animals : implications for genetic diversity and the use of mitochondrial DNA as a molecular marker. Molecular Biology and Evolution. in press.
  • Nabholz B, Lanfear R and Fuchs J. 2016. Body mass-corrected molecular rate for bird mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Ecology 25:4438-4449
  • Nguyen L-P, Galtier N, Nabholz B (2015) Gene expression, chromosome heterogeneity and the fast-X effect in mammals. Biology Letters, 11, 20150010. [link, dataset]
  • Romiguier, J., Gayral, P., Ballenghien, M., Bernard, A., Cahais, V., Chenuil, A., Chiari, Y., Dernat, R., Duret, L., Faivre, N., Loire, E., Lourenco, J.M., Nabholz, B., Roux, C., Tsagkogeorga, G., Weber, A. a.-T., Weinert, L.A., Belkhir, K., Bierne, N., Glémin, S., Galtier, N., 2014. Comparative population genomics in animals uncovers the determinants of genetic diversity. Nature advance online publication. doi:10.1038/nature13685