Population structure, genealogy and host specificity in parasites
As one of the main topics In my lab we focus on studying the determinants of genetic structure and adaptation in parasite populations. Several parasitic taxa were adopted as models to reveal processes which take part in the lineage formation and speciation of parasites (e.g. population history and dynamics, geography and affiliation of genetic strains to particular hosts).
We now study the origins of population genomic diversity and adaptations in two model groups
· endoparasite - flatworm Ligula intestinalis
(L. intestinalis parasitizes body cavity of various freshwater fish species)
· ectoparasites - bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) in collaboration with Bedbug
- sucking lice of the genera Hoplopleura and Polyplax.
- chewing lice of the genera Myrsidea, Brueelia and
(Myrsidea nesomimi, parasite of the Galapagos mockingbirds)
Hybridizing species (or populations) are favourite with biologists, because they allow them to take a look into the final stage of speciation. The study subject of my long outdated... master’s thesis was a Bombina hybrid zone lying southwards of České Budějovice, Czech Republic. It aimed to reveal relationships between the genetic structure of populations inside the hybrid zone and the ecological demands of the two parental toad species. In accord with the studies performed earlier in other transects (Poland, Croatia) considerable differences in the ecology (and genetics) of both parental species (Bombina bombina and B. variegata) were attributed to maintain the shape of the hybrid zone (Master thesis, PDF).
(live specimens of B. variegata temporarily narcotized to allow
collection of genetic material)
Most recently, together with lab colleagues, we found a cryptic hybrid zone between two lineages of Polyplax serrata lice parasitizing Apodemus mice in western Czechia. More in this here: 10.22541/au.159373043.34577738
Conservation and evolutionary genetics in birds and their parasites
In my lab we study several bird models (Galapagos mockingbirds, Vietnamese tropical birds, European bluethroats) to link genetic diversity of their populations with their evolutionary history and parasite (or pathogen) exposure.