Speciation is a fundamental process at the heart of the evolution of biodiversity. We are striving to find answers to some of the biggest unknowns in speciation research, using experimental evolution with the fast and flexible model system Saccharomyces yeast. The awesome power of yeast genetics, combined with the newest sequencing technology, allows us to establish links between all levels of divergence – genetic, phenotypic, and ecological.


Experimental Evolution with Yeast 

We study hybridization between divergent evolutionary lineages and the effect that the exchange of genetic material has on adaptation, reproductive isolation and speciation. For this, we use experimental evolution with Saccharomyces (Baker’s) yeast and the newest genome and RNA sequencing tools, which allow us to observe evolution in the lab over hundreds of generations within a few weeks time.

Principal Investigator: Rike Stelkens
Contributing Researcher: Ciaran Gilchrist


Structural genomic changes and aneuploidy 

Aneuploidy is the loss or gain of extra chromosomes. Aneuploidy and other large chromosomal changes are common in crosses between divergent genomes and may provide a natural route for adaptation to changing environments. We use Saccharomyces yeast, experimental evolution, and long-read sequencing to understand the evolutionary significance of ploidy changes and chromosomal rearrangements.

Principal Investigator: Rike Stelkens
Contributing Researchers: Ciaran Gilchrist