The MEEP lab has a strong focus on research and is a dynamic and productive group. Members of this research group are interested in various aspects of molecular ecology and computational evolutionary biology, including molecular clocks, evolutionary rates, phylogenetic methods, calibration techniques, and ancient DNA. We work on a diverse range of organisms, including animals and plants, with special interests in megafauna, isopods, and termites.
Recent research projects span a broad range of topics and include both theoretical and applied aspects of phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary analysis. Much of this work is performed in collaboration with researchers on campus, across Australia, and in other countries.
Molecular evolution and phylogenetics
Phylogenetics is the study of evolutionary relationships. We have a broad interest in this area, including theoretical and applied studies.
Some of our work focusses on phylogenetic methods and their performance. This typically involves methodological development, extensive analysis using simulations, and testing methods using real DNA sequence data. Our group is developing a number of methods for analysing phylogenomic data.
We also conduct phylogenetic and phylogenomic analyses to study evolutionary relationships and timescales. Recent projects have included the phylogenetics of viruses, insects, birds, and flowering plants.
Since its proposal in the 1960s, the molecular clock has become an essential tool in many areas of evolutionary biology, including systematics, molecular ecology, and conservation genetics. The molecular clock hypothesis states that DNA and protein sequences evolve at a rate that is relatively constant over time and among different organisms. A direct consequence of this constancy is that the genetic difference between any two species is proportional to the time since these species last shared a common ancestor.
We are interested in all theoretical and applied aspects of molecular clocks. This includes relaxed molecular clocks, calibration methods, and the causes of evolutionary rate variation.
We are interested in all aspects of termite biology, systematics, biogeography, and evolution. Our research in this area includes collecting samples in the field, morphological study, gene sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis.
We are interested in various aspects of symbiosis, including endosymbiosis.