Clifford W. Zeyl

Clifford Zeyl (left) receives award for Excellence in Research

Clifford Zeyl (left) receives award for Excellence in Research

BS University of Guelph (1989)
MS McGill University (1992)
Ph.D. McGill University (1996)
113 Winston Hall
(336) 758-4292

Areas of interest

evolutionary genetics, particularly genetics and genomics of adaptation, ecological genetics, and the evolution of sex


Evolutionary change is usually thought of has happening too slowly to be observed directly, which makes direct experimental tests of evolutionary theory difficult, especially for the broad questions:  what is the evolutionary advantage that maintains sex?  Why are most plants and animals diploid, while many algae and fungi are haploid for much of their life cycle?  With the era of genomics have come new questions and debates; for example, is “evolvability” a genomic trait that can be indirectly selected for, or a byproducted of others that are?

My lab performs experiments that give rigorous, reproducible answers to such questions and hypotheses by analyzing evolution as it occurs, using budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Its short generation time allows a significant amount of evolutionary change to be observed within several months, and the tools of classical genetics and current genomics methods can then be used to examine the genetic details of how populations adapt over thousands of generations. Current topics of particular interest are the quantitative genetics of complex life-history and ecological adaptations, the evolution of epigenetic mechanisms of phenotypic variation and inheritance, and the origin and maintenance of ecological diversity.

Selected publications

see also pubmed list of papers  [LINK]

J-N Jasmin and C Zeyl. 2012. Life-history evolution and density-dependent growth in experimental populations of yeast.  Evolution 66:3789–3802.

J-N Jasmin, M Dillon, and C Zeyl. 2012. The yield of experimental yeast populations declines during selection.  Proceedings of the Royal Society 279:4382-4388.

HA Murphy and C Zeyl. 2011. Prezygotic isolation between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces paradoxus through differences in mating speed and germination timing.  Evolution 66:1196-1209.

HA Murphy and C Zeyl. 2010. Yeast sex: surprisingly high rates of outcrossing between asci.  PLoS One 5:e10461

C Zeyl. 2010. Evolutionary genetics: desperate times call for more sex.  Current Biology (Dispatch) 20: R637-639.

C Zeyl and SP Otto. 2007. A short history of recombination in yeast.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22:223-225.

C Zeyl. 2007. Evolutionary genetics: a piggyback ride to adaptation and diversity.  Current Biology (Dispatch) 17:R333-335.

C Zeyl. 2007. How missing genes interact.  Nature Genetics 39:440-442.

C Zeyl. 2007. Evolutionary genetics: a piggyback ride to adaptation and diversity. Current Biology 17: R333-335

C Zeyl. 2007. How missing genes interact. Nature Genetics 39:440-442.