evolution, hybridization, genomes, cool stuff

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gregory l. owens, PhD



Interspecies hybridization is found in wide variety of taxa across the tree of life. This exchange of alleles has the potential to be incredibly important in evolution and may be involved in adaptation. I have used genomic data to detect introgression in sunflowers, stickleback, warblers, thrush and casava. More broadly, I aim to quantify how frequent hybridization is across the tree of life.

structural variation

Inversions can link together adaptive mutations and be important in maintaining local adaptation in the face of geneflow. I've used genomic data to identify an unprecedented number of inversions in sunflowers. Current work is exploring the evolutionary history of these inversions and what role they played in adaptation to extreme environments.

hybrid speciation

An extreme example of the constructive effects of hybridization involve species formed through hybridization. In sunflowers, three different hybrid species were formed from the same two parental species. I have used bioinformatic techniques to tease apart the genomic composition of these hybrid species and ask if selection as acting during speciation.

opsin genes

Opsin genes are of central importance to vision and are an excellent system for studying adaptation at the genetic level. I have explored gene duplication and expression tuning in several species of fish. For example, in stickleback evolutionary changes to opsin gene expression are correlated with changes in light environments during freshwater colonization.


banting fellow 2018-onward

rasmus nielsen
developing methods to detect hybridization across the tree of life
university of california, berkeley

postdoctoral fellow 2016-2018

loren rieseberg
adaptive introgression and pervasive interspecific gene flow in Helianthus
university of british columbia

consultant 2014-2017

xenon pharmaceuticals
linkage analysis of rare disease phenotypes
cutts consulting ltd
mining microbial databases


PhD 2011-2016

loren rieseberg
hybridization in Helianthus: the genomic profiles of potential and confirmed sunflower hybrid species
university of british columbia

MSc 2008-2010

john taylor
examining expression of nine opsin genes in the split retina of the “four-eyed” fish, Anableps anableps
university of victoria



shell scripts

evolutionary biology