Studying evolutionary genomics of reptiles and amphibians in the Allentoft group.
The Allentoft group implements ancient DNA and genomic data to study the generation, distribution, and conservation of biodiversity, focusing on herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles). These animals are endangered and understudied in many regions and excellent model organisms for understanding micro- and macro-evolutionary processes.
As part of Centre for GeoGenetics, we have one foot firmly planted in ancient DNA research, but most of the ongoing and newly started research projects in the Allentoft group revolve around "Molecular Herpetology". Using state-of-the-art genomic technologies, we focus on the molecular evolution, population genetics and conservation genetics of reptiles and amphibians. This focus derives from a life-long passion and interest in herpetology and a strong dedication to study these magnificent creatures.
Among several ongoing projects, we study speciation of snakes in the Eastern Arc Mountains in Tanzania, hybridization in fire-bellied toads in the Carpathian Mountains, and rapid adaptation among island lizards in the Adriatic Sea. We apply a number of different genomic technologies ranging from traditional PCR-based methods, hybridization capture, transcriptomic sequencing, and complete de novo assembly of selected reference genomes. Moreover, having access to ultra-sterile clean labs and years of experience in the ancient DNA field, we specialise in recovering degraded DNA from old (often formalin-exposed) museum specimens.
Field work is a strong priority in our group and despite being a mix of mainly molecular and computational biologists, we enjoy getting our hands dirty by being directly involved in field work and sampling. After all, catching snakes in the rainforest is a lot more fun than setting up PCR-reactions!
1) Allentoft ME, Rasmussen AR, Kristensen HV (2018). Centuries-Old DNA from an Extinct Population of Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus) Offers New Phylogeographic Insight. Diversity, vol. 10, doi:10.3390/d10010014.
2) Schroeder H, ..., & Allentoft ME (2019). Unraveling ancestry, kinship, and violence in a Late Neolithic mass grave. PNAS, vol. 116, 10705-10710.
3) Margaryan A, ..., & Allentoft ME (2017). Eight Millennia of Matrilineal Genetic Continuity in the South Caucasus. Current Biology, vol. 27, 2023-2028.
Full list of publications by Morten Allentoft.
Independent Research Fund Denmark:
Sapere Aude programme & Research Project 1