The Liberles Research Group works in the areas of computational comparative genomics, and molecular evolution. The central theme in the research group is the detection and characterization of the lineage-specific divergence of protein-encoding genes. Much of the work in the group is done in a phylogenetic context. Ultimately, we want to ask the question, “What makes each species unique at the genomic level?”.
Methodological work in the group involves the construction of mechanistic models for codon and amino acid substitution and for duplicate gene retention. Ultimately, we want to ask the question, “How do proteins change functions on evolutionary timescales?”.
Comparative genomic work in the group involves The Adaptive Evolution Database (TAED), where gene families and detected events of positive directional selection are mapped to species tree lineages in chordates. Recent genomic work has involved a collection of organisms, including tunicates, termites, grasses, and salmonids, among others.
Some new directions in the group include topics in evolutionary systems biology and in metagenomic data analysis to address ecological questions. Ultimately, these questions are aimed at asking, “How do proteins co-evolve when selection acts at the level of the pathway?” and “How do species interact in ecosystems and how is this linked to their gene content and genome sequences?”.