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Institut für Evolutionäre Anthropologie (IEA) Evolutionary Genetics Group

David Marques

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Research Interests

My fascination of evolution and the diversity of organisms guided my interest to the field of molecular evolution. By looking for genetic adaptive signatures in various organisms, many interesting results were obtained, encouraging further research to find evolutionary important genetic factors. The orangutan (Pongo spp.) comes into focus as one of our close relatives. Therein, molecular evolution within orangutans is of prior interest regarding our own evolutionary history.

The aim of my Master's thesis is to investigate the evolution of genes involved in brain size regulation in orangutans. Orang-utans (Pongo spp.) provide an ideal model for the evolution of brain size within great apes due to their variation in brain size. Yet, the underlying genetic mechanisms for this variation are still poorly understood. Glutamate dehydrogenase 2 (GLUD2) is a duplicated gene unique to great apes where it has acquired a brain-specific expression pattern. Most notably, GLUD2 has undergone positive selection in the lineage from the most recent common ancestor of all extant great apes leading to humans. GLUD2 is therefore an interesting candidate gene linked to brain size evolution to study the population genetics and evolution among orang-utans. I currently sequence the 1.6 kb GLUD2 coding region within a geographically representative subsample of orang-utans, which will be followed by applying a SNP assay to a large population-based dataset covering the species’ distribution. This population-based approach of molecular evolution will allow us to trace potential functional correlates of the observed brain size evolution patterns.

Academic Record

MSc degree in Biology, Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2007-2009

BSc degree in Biology, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2004-2007

Relevant Research Experience

  • Tropical Biology Association (TBA) field course, Makerere University Biological Field Station, Kibale Forest, Uganda, June-July 2007
  • Breeding bird monitoring, nature sanctuary Neeracherried, Switzerland, 2005-present
  • Monitoring for the "Breeding Bird Atlas Kanton Zürich", march-june 2007/2008
  • Breeding bird monitoring "nature value index for city of Zurich", Zurich, Switzerland, march-june 2006
  • Bird migration census Important Bird Area (IBA) Capo Greco, Cyprus, October 2005

Weiterführende Informationen

Daniel Marques

David Marques