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Population Genomics of microorganisms and their hosts in health and disease

Population Genomics of microorganisms and their hosts in health and disease

Welcome to the Cornejo Lab

The research in the Cornejo lab is aimed at understanding how basic evolutionary processes like demographic history and natural selection impact the genetic architecture of organisms. We are interested in the inference of the evolutionary history of populations and how genomic data can be used to learn:

  1. How important is homologous recombination for the evolution of traits involved in host shifts or adaptation to new environments?

  2. During which stages of the complex life cycle of organisms do we expect to find hotspots of adaptation?

  3. What is the impact of self-fertilization on the genetic architecture of organisms?

  4. What is the genetic basis responsible for differences in the phenotype of organisms?

To understand how these processes shape genomic variation, we apply a multidisciplinary approach that combines computational biology, population genetic/genomic analyses, phylogenetics, simple mathematical modeling, and wet lab experiments. Developing a better understanding of the forces shaping the genetic architecture of organisms will have enormous implications on the design of strategies for the management of populations and species of interest. You can learn more about what we do in our lab in the Research section.

Some of the questions currently addressed in our lab are:

  1. Can we infer from retrospective genomic analyses the demographic history of (micro)organisms and identify candidate genes that might be involved in their adaptation to their current niche (either host or environment)? How does that history corresponds to the demographic history of their host(s)?

  2. What is the evolutionary history of Theobroma cacao and what can we learn about the history of domestication of arboreal crops?

  3. What are the genetic bases of disease susceptibility? What are the difference in microbiome composition or genetics of the host that renders them susceptible to the colonization and spread of infectious diseases?

  4. What are the genetic bases of phenotypic variation in complex traits like pod color or the ability to produce offspring? These are questions that present common challenges in organisms with very distinct genomic architectures like Theobroma cacao (chocolate plants) and humans?

  5. How does the interaction of organisms modify the genomic architecture of the interacting organisms?

  6. What is the impact of overlapped generations in our inference of the demographic history of organisms?

  7. How does the recombination architecture of Anopheles gambiae shape the distribution of deleterious mutations genome-wide?

If you are interested in any of these research topics do not hesitate to contact us. For more information on the opportunities in for Undergraduate, Graduate and Postodoctoral positions visit our Opportunities section.

News of interest

The evolutionary genomics of the chocolate tree, Theobroma cacao



The lab in the WSU news


Our recent work on Gardnerella vaginalis in collaboration with Larry Forney is out (check it out)


The Cornejo Lab joins Ag1000 to help contribute to improve human health