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Dr Nicholas Mundy

Dr Nicholas Mundy

University Reader in Evolutionary Genetics

Nicholas Mundy is accepting applications for PhD students.

Room F102
Office Phone: 01223 (3)36657


I am an evolutionary geneticist with a focus on the genetic basis of adaptive evolution in vertebrates

Research Interests

Our main current areas of research are the evolutionary genetics of plumage coloration in birds and adaptive evolution in primates. I am particularly interested in systems where we have a realistic chance of a comprehensive understanding of the genetic basis of adaptations, from causative mutations through to the adaptive phenotype via biochemical/physiological mechanisms. A strong current interest is in the genetics of carotenoid coloration which up to now has been severely neglected. We are studying genes controlling carotenoid deposition in feathers and bare body parts as well as genes involved in converting dietary carotenoids to brighter carotenoids for colour displays, primarily in finches and weavers. We have a longstanding interest in the genetics of melanin-based coloration in birds, and are extending early studies on single locus polymorphisms underlying melanism to the evolution and molecular basis of plumage patterning, and the population genetics of melanism. Using primate brain evolution we have developed new quantitative methods to link gene to phenotype evolution over phylogenies, discovering genes underlying brain expansion in the process, and are planning to extend this analysis to a genomic scale.

Key Publications

Janssen, K., Mundy, N. I. (2013) Molecular population genetics of the melanic plumage polymorphism in arctic skuas (Stercorarius parasiticus): Evidence for divergent selection on plumage colour. Molecular Ecology (in press) DOI: 10.1111/mec.12428

Bowden, R. J., MacFie, T. S.,  Myers, S.,  Hellenthal, G., Nerrienet, E.,  Bontrop, R.,  Freeman, C., Donnelly, P. and N. I. Mundy (2012) Genomic tools for evolution and conservation in thechimpanzee: Pan troglodytes ellioti is a genetically distinct population. PLoS Genetics 8 e1002504.

Walsh, N., Dale, J., McGraw, K. J., Pointer, M. A. and N. I. Mundy (2012) Candidate genes for carotenoid colouration in vertebrates and their expression profiles in the carotenoid-containing plumage and bill of a wild bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B  279, 58-66.

Montgomery, S. H., Capellini, I., Venditti, C., Barton, R. A. and N. I. Mundy (2011) Adaptive evolution of four microcephaly genes and the evolution of brain size in anthropoid primates. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28, 625-638.

Mundy, N. I., Badcock, N., Hart, T., Scribner, K., Janssen, K. and N. J. Nadeau (2004) Conserved genetic basis of a quantitative plumage trait involved in mate choice. Science 303, 1870-1873.

Other Publications

Hohenbrink, P., Mundy, N. I., Zimmermann, E & U. Radespiel (2013) First evidence for functional vomeronasal 2 receptor genes in strepsirrhine primates. Biology Letters 9, 20121006.

Scally, A. et al. (71 co-authors) (2012) Insights into the evolution of the great apes provided by the gorilla genome sequence. Nature 483 169-175.

Montgomery, S. H. and N. I. Mundy (2012) Evolution of ASPM is associated with both increases and decreases in brain size in primates. Evolution 66, 927-932.

Hohenbrink, P., Radespiel, U. and N. I. Mundy (2012) Pervasive and ongoing positive selection in the V1R repertoire of mouse lemurs. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29, 3807-3816.

Montgomery, S. H., Capellini, I., Barton, R. A. and N. I. Mundy (2010) The ups and downs of primate brain evolution: implications for adaptive hypotheses and Homo floresiensis.BMC Biology 8, 9.

Caine, N. G., Osorio, D., and N. I. Mundy (2010) A foraging advantage for dichromatic marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi) at low light intensity. Biology Letters 6, 36-38.