Laurent Excoffier
Computational and Molecular
Population Genetics Group
University of Bern
Group Webpage

What do we do?

At the Computational and Molecular Population Genetics (CMPG) Group, we develop new methodologies for the simulation and analysis of molecular polymorphisms within species, with a particular focus on humans. We also develop and maintain the Arlequin software, a popular package for the analysis of multi-locus genetic diversity within and between populations as well as statistical methods to reconstruct and infer evolutionary processes from genomic data. The team focuses on the effect of range expansions on genomic and functional diversity, and the detection of signatures of adaptation and selection at the molecular level.

Highlights 2016

In 2016, our group was heavily involved in reconstructing past demographic scenarios of human and chimpanzee evolution based on full genomes. In humans, we showed that all non-African populations originated from a single wave of migration out of Africa some 70 Kya, and that Australia had a complex and long history since its founding more than 50 Kya. In Chimpanzee, we found evidence that Bonobo hybridized with the ancestors of the Central and Eastern chimpanzee between 200 and 500 Kya, suggesting that admixture might have been widespread in hominids. We also used spatially explicit simulations to better examine the settlement of Eurasia by modern humans. We found that long-distance dispersal had been important to maintain high levels of genetic diversity during these times, and that Eurasians retracted to southern refugia during the last glacial maximum.

Main publications 2016

  • Alves I, et al. Long distance dispersal shaped patterns of human genetic diversity in Eurasia. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2016; 33: 946–958
  • de Manuel M, et al. Chimpanzee genomic diversity reveals ancient admixture with bonobos. Science 2016; 354: 477-481
  • Henn BM et al. Distance from Sub-Saharan Africa Predicts Mutational Load in Diverse Human Genomes. PNAS 2016;113:E440-9.
  • Malaspinas AS et al. (2016) A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature 2016; 538: 207-214
  • Peischl S et al. Genetic surfing in human populations: from genes to genomes. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 2016; 41: 53-61

Our research topics: