Philip Gerrish (CIBIO/InBIO- Universidade do Porto) December 12, 2013 | 14h30 | CIBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão

Welcome Seminar in Biodiversity and Evolution


During the period in history when classical population genetics was developed, statistical mechanics (from physics) had recently been discovered, was palpably in the air, and was being applied to many different disciplines. For reasons I will explain, this resulted in a fundamental assumption of population genetics being that of free recombination. As the Hardy-Weinberg law nicely illustrates, this assumption results in rapid convergence to equilibrium states. What happens when recombination among loci is limited or non-existent (i.e., when genetic linkage is present) has been the focus of my work. In the presence of genetic linkage, notions of equilibrium, Nash equilibrium, and optimality must be questioned, if not discarded, and non-equilibrium approaches must be explored. As an overview of my research, I will briefly introduce three areas I have worked on in this regard: 1) clonal interference, 2) mutation-rate evolution (a striking example of how linkage can subvert natural selection), and 3) predicting the near-future course of evolution. If time permits, I will present two slides on an exciting new direction my work has taken, applying these and other evolutionary concepts to HIV vaccine design.



Philip Gerrish has recently joined CIBIO to work in the Microbial Diversity and Evolution Group, coming from the Institute for Advanced Studies / New Mexico Consortium, USA. Phil is a specialist in theoretical microbial evolution, and his research interests span across various topics including mutation rate evolution, asexual population dynamics, homeostasis theory and antigenic evolution and redefining self.


Image credits: Philip Gerrish