Roman YukilevichAssistant Professor, Ph.D. Stony Brook University 2008
Postdoc University of Chicago 2011
I am an evolutionary biologist interested in studying how reproductive isolation (speciation) evolves in nature. To achieve this goal I study 1) natural populations of Drosophila that have recently undergone divergence and 2) model the process of speciation on a computer to make further predictions about how species diverge in nature.
My Drosophila work has focused on understanding how speciation evolves during the very incipient stages. In particular I am interested in studying how different populations of the same species evolve sexual or behavioral isolation, where individuals show some level of preference of mating with their own type. This includes studying geographical variation in both male sexual cues and female mating preferences between populations and sexual selection within populations. Here at Union, I am studying one of the most rapid cases of incipient behavioral isolation known in the genus Drosophila, using a local native forest species (Drosophila athabasca). This involves studying the traits and behaviors of individuals both in the field and in the lab. In addition, I use population genetics to understand gene flow patterns and evolutionary history of this incipient speciation.
Second, I am interested in developing new theoretical models of speciation. These projects involve simulating the evolution of reproductive isolation mechanisms on a computer. I develop individual-based population genetic models to study how genes involved in either mating behaviors or viability and fertility diverge in different populations so as to lead to prezygotic or postzygotic genetic incompatibilities (speciation). These models are spatially-explicit and contain many interacting local populations, thus requiring intensive parallel computing. The IBM super-computer cluster, recently acquired by Union College, will be utilized for this research.
Finally, I am also interesting in understanding broad patterns of speciation in nature. For this purpose I have recently initiated a project of compiling all historical published information on various aspects of reproductive isolation in the genus Drosophila. This work has extended previous meta-analyses in the field and has led to the identification of novel patterns of speciation in this genus. You can find more information on this project at: www.drosophila-speciation-patterns.com.
Yukilevich, R. 2013. Tropics accelerate the evolution of hybrid male sterility in Drosophila. Evolution. (Accepted).
Yukilevich, R. 2012. Asymmetrical patterns of speciation uniquely support reinforcement in Drosophila. Evolution 66 (5): 1430-1446.
Fang, S.*, R. Yukilevich*, Y, Chen, D. Turissini, K. Zheng, Ian A. Boussy, and C.-I. Wu. 2012. Incompatibility and competitive exclusion of genomic segments between sibling Drosophila species. Plos Genetics 8(6): e1002795. pg. 1-20. *First/corresponding co-authors.
True, J. R.* and R. Yukilevich*. In Revision. Mechanisms of incipient speciation between geographically isolated body color morphs of Drosophila elegans. *Authors contributed equally to the work. Submitted to J. Evolutionary Biology.
Yukilevich, R., T. Turner, F. Aoki, S. Nuzhdin, and J. R. True. 2010. Patterns and processes of genome-wide divergence between North American and African Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. 186(1):219-239.
Yukilevich, R. and J. R. True. 2008. African morphology, behavior and pheromones underlie incipient sexual isolation between US and Caribbean Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution. 62(11):2807-2828.
Yukilevich, R. and J. R. True. 2008. Incipient sexual isolation among cosmopolitan Drosophila melanogaster populations. Evolution. 62(8):2112-2121.
Yukilevich, R., J. Lachance, F. Aoki, and J. R. True. 2008. Adaptive walks of epistatic genetic networks. Evolution. 62(9):2215-2235.
Nosil, P. and R. Yukilevich. 2008. Mechanisms of reinforcement in natural and simulated polymorphic populations. Biological Journal of Linnean Society. 95:305-319.
Courses: Heredity, Evolution and Ecology (BIO 110) and Evolutionary Biology (BIO 350)
Phone: (518) 388-6985
Office: Science and Engineering S319
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