International Plant & Animal Genome Conference / PAG 32 • January 10-15, 2025  •  San Diego, CA, USA

m.sayres 160Assistant Professor of Genomics, Evolution, and Bioinformatics, Arizona State University, AZ, USA
Sunday, January 14, 6:15 PM / Town & Country Ballroom

Talk Title:  “Sex-biased Genome Evolution”


Melissa Wilson Sayres is an evolutionary and computational biologist at Arizona State University, trained in the biology of sex chromosome evolution and population genetics. After finishing her B.S. in Mathematics at Creighton University, she transitioned to studying biology in the lab of Dr. Kateryna Makova, where she investigated sex chromosome evolution and male mutation bias. She showed that mutation rate differences between males and females can primarily be explained by differences in age at reproduction, suggesting a replicatively-driven mechanism. She also used comparative genomics to provide evidence that X-inactivation evolved gene-by-gene on the human X chromosome in response to Y-linked gene loss. As a Miller Fellow – an independent postdoctoral scholar fellowship – in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, she led a study that showed that observed diversity across the entire human Y chromosome is at least four times lower than expected under neutral models of human demography and conducted novel likelihood-based analyses to show that the low Y diversity is consistent with a model of purifying selection. Since starting her faculty position, Wilson Sayres has continued to study genetic variation within and across species on the sex chromosomes, and is expanding into using evolutionary principles to understand human health and disease. This includes modeling tumor progression, and studying the role of variation on the sex chromosomes in breast, liver, and prostate cancer. Outside of lab, Dr. Wilson Sayres is active in science outreach and mentoring trainees of all levels.


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