Organisation och personal

Carina Farah Mugal

forskare vid Institutionen för ekologi och genetik, Evolutionsbiologi

018-471 6417
Evolutionsbiologiskt Centrum
Norbyv. 18D
75236 Uppsala
Evolutionsbiologiskt Centrum, Norbyv. 18D
75236 Uppsala

Kort presentation

My main research interest lies in patterns of genome evolution, such as base composition and gene sequence evolution. In particular, I focus on the impact of meiotic recombination and natural selection on these patterns of evolution. Moreover, I investigate the applicability of phylogenetic approaches to closely related species. In order to explore these questions, I use comparative genomics, statistical data analysis and mathematical modeling, where I primarily use birds as a model organism.

Nyckelord: meiotic recombination comparative genomics theoretical population genetics stochastic modeling population genomics

Mina kurser


July 2017 – present
Research Associate
Department of Ecology and Genetics
Uppsala University, Sweden

September 2013 – June 2017
Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Ecology and Genetics
Uppsala University, Sweden

November 2008 – June 2013
PhD studies in evolutionary biology
Department of Ecology and Genetics
Uppsala University, Sweden

July 2011 – February 2012
Research internship
Department of Computational Molecular Biology
Max Planck Institute, Berlin

March 2005 – April 2008
Undergraduate studies in theoretical chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Graz, Austria


Causes and consequences of variation in meiotic recombination rate across the avian genome.

In most sexually reproducing species, meiotic recombination is essential for accurate chromosome segregation during the first meiotic division. Mechanisms of meiotic recombination are therefore evolutionary conserved and the localization of recombination is tightly regulated. As a consequence of this tight regulation mechanism the frequency of recombination is highly heterogeneous across the genomes of many animals and plants and is predominantly concentrated in so-called hotspots. Nevertheless, we still lack a clear picture of the underlying mechanisms for regulating the localization of recombination events. In order to improve our understanding, we investigate the determinants of the recombination landscape across the avian genome, ranging from the chromosomal scale to the fine scale of a few kilobases. Moreover, we investigate the consequences of the spatial variation in recombination rate on genome evolution. Here, we particularly study the impact of GC-biased gene conversion and Hill-Robertson Interference on base composition and gene sequence evolution in birds. We primarily use comparative genomic approaches, but also imply mathematical modeling to gain some conceptual understanding.

Selected publications:

Smeds*, L., Mugal*, C.F., Qvarnström, A., Ellegren, H. (2016). High-Resolution Mapping of Crossover and Non-crossover Recombination Events by Whole-Genome Re-sequencing of an Avian Pedigree. PLoS Genetics, 12(5)

Bolívar, P., Mugal, C.F., Nater, A., Ellegren, H. (2016). Recombination Rate Variation Modulates Gene Sequence Evolution Mainly via GC-Biased Gene Conversion, Not Hill-Robertson Interference, in an Avian System. Molecular biology and evolution, 33(1): 216-227

Mugal, C.F., Weber, C.C., Ellegren, H. (2015). GC-biased gene conversion links the recombination landscape and demography to genomic base composition: GC-biased gene conversion drives genomic base composition across a wide range of species. Bioessays, 37(12): 1317-1326

Application of phylogenetic approaches to closely related species.

Estimates of molecular evolutionary rates, such as point mutation rate, are important measures for a wide range of evolutionary analyses. A common way to estimate such rates is based on phylogenetic approaches, which estimate sequence divergence between sequences of related species. These approaches rely on the indirect assumption that sequence divergence and species divergence are identical, an assumption, which is generally violated. The violation of this assumption leads to a time-dependence of rate estimates and biases rate estimates in particular for closely related species. Here, an analytical understanding of the time-dependence constitutes a prerequisite to avoid such biases. In order to fill this gap, we use Poisson random field models to derive analytical expressions of sequence divergence D as a function of time and sample size for a scenario that involves natural selection. This allows us not only to address the time-dependence of rate estimates, but also enables us to evaluate if the use of polymorphism data can improve the estimation.

Selected publications:

Kaj, I., Mugal, C.F. (2016). The non-equilibrium allele frequency spectrum in a Poisson random field framework. Theoretical Population Biology, 111: 51-64

Mugal, C.F., Wolf, J.B.W., Kaj, I. (2014). Why Time Matters: Codon Evolution and the Temporal Dynamics of dN/dS. Molecular biology and evolution, 31(1): 212-231


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