Evolutionary genomics refers to the study of how features or components of a genome (the entirety of an organisms' DNA) change both within and between species over evolutionary timescales. The interpretation of any changes in the structure or content of genomes is often made within a comparative phylogenetic context in order to account for the underlying noise in the data as a result of the variability of DNA sequences due to population genetic forces.
Some common questions in evolutionary genomics are:
- How, and why, does the total size of genomes change?
- Why do some species have larger genomes than others?
- How do genomes, or parts of genomes, change in size during evolution?
- Why do some species have more coding DNA than others?
- Why do some species have more non-coding DNA than others?
- When have specific genomic changes occurred?
- What changes at the genomic level are associated with major evolutionary events, such as the origin of animals or the origin of vertebrates?
Here at Leeds, we utilise evolutionary genomic tools to address exciting fundamental questions in biology from the origin of the eukaryotic cell to the phenotypic diversity of animals. Our aim is to understand the patterns and processes of evolution and the functional consequences of change at the DNA level.