Obesity is becoming the major epidemic of the 21st century, and we are studying this disease in an integrated way - from the perspective of genomics, microbiomics, and epigenomics. We are following a large group of newborn children until they are at least 3 years of age.
We have investigated microsatellite evolution in the framework of a life-cycle hypothesis, according to which microsatellites are born and expand into adulthood, until their degradation and death. Microsatellites are implicated in numerous diseases and used as markers in population genetics and forensics.
With sequencing now possible at high depth, we aim to examine mutation process directly, by examining the DNA of children and their parents. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) provides a good starting point for such an investigation due to its compact size and high mutation rate.
Mutation rates vary at a fine scale - even within individual chromosomes. We are using statistical modeling to study such regional variation in mutation rates. Moreover, we are able to segment the genome into regions with high and low rates of different mutation types.
We are determining the gene repertoire and structure of the Y chromosome in several mammalian species. The Y chromosome has very high rates of mutation compared with other chromosomes in the mammalian genome due to a higher number of cell divisions in the male than female germ line.