Our research focuses on one of the most intimate coevolutionary interactions: the interaction between a genome and its intra-genomic parasites, transposable elements (TEs). TEs have considerably affected the size, function, and structure of the genome in all eukaryote lineages. Far from the common assumption that TEs are useless components of genomes, they have been a significant source of evolutionary novelties. It is thus important to understand the evolutionary processes that are affecting their dynamics in natural populations. Our research in this area revolves around two main questions: (1) what is the nature of the interactions between TEs and their hosts? and (2) Why does the diversity and abundance of TEs differ so much among organisms?
We are interested in determining the factors that explain the geographic distribution of organisms and the genetic bases of adaptation to the environment. In particular, we are investigating the genetic, behavioral and physiological changes associated with the colonization of novel habitats and the adaptation to extreme environments. We use a combination of fieldwork, population genomics, and bioinformatics approaches to study adaptation to high elevation in vertebrate of the Ethiopian highlands and to extremely arid environments in the UAE.