skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

Research

Current research themes in the Willerslev group include:

 

Raghavan et al. 2014
Ancient human migrations into the North American Arctic (Raghavan et al. 2014)

Human population genomics

We use whole-genome sequencing data from ancient and contemporary humans to understand the key demographic processes that contributed to the formation of the genetic diversity, structure, adaptations and disease distributions found in present-day worldwide populations. Since our study of the first ancient modern human genome (Nature 2010), we have published several ancient human population genomics papers on the peopling of the Americas, Europe, Australia and the North American Arctic.

  

Environmental genomics

We are interested in past evolutionary and ecological processes in populations, communities and ecosystems that shed light on the extant biological diversity and its future trajectories. Ecological topics of particular interest include resilience to past environmental change across the levels of ecological organisation, interaction dynamics between populations of different species on millennial time scales, and the stability of structure and function of past ecosystems. Evolutionary theme broadly covers biological diversification in recent geological history across the kingdoms, and particularly through evolutionary processes such as adaptation, speciation and extinction.

 

Method development

We work on delivering innovative methods and technologies in ancient genomics to help resolve both new and long-standing scientific questions in the field. We are currently focusing on developing a method for high-throughput sequencing of single fossil pollen grains as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded SinPoll Project. The method relies on an innovative fusion of two established paleo-proxies - fossil pollen and aDNA - with state-of-the-art single-cell sequencing technologies, and if successful, it would enable a high-resolution reconstruction of past population dynamics for thousands of plant species worldwide, including those from low latitude, species-rich regions.