I am an Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Toronto Mississauga. My Ph.D. at University of Toronto with Prof. Spencer Barrett  focused on the impacts that inbreeding via self-fertilization can have on genetic diversity among and within populations of the neotropical plant Eichhornia paniculata. I also investigated the impact that selfing has on the genome through an accumulation of deleterious mutations. I took a different perspective in my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh with Peter Keightley and Nick Colegrave, approaching genome evolution by trying to understand the nature of spontaneous mutation in the single-celled alga Chlamydomonas. I combined a number of approaches, including mutation accumulation, de novo genome assembly, genome re-sequencing and population genomics to address fundamental questions about the rate and heterogeneity of mutation in time, and across the genome, as well as mutation’s effect on fitness and how this might change across environments.

Contact Office 3059 William G. Davis Building Department of Biology University of Toronto @ Mississuaga Mississauga ON


Mariana joined to UTM in December 2015 to work on a collaborative project with Helene Wagner to study landscape genetics of the plant Pulsatilla vulgaris


Josianne recently completed her PhD at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh. Josianne uses the single-celled alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to uncover the process of adaptation and extinction during environmental change. Josianne joined the lab in spring 2016 and is now analyzing whole genome data from experimentally salt-adapted lines of C. reinhardtii.

Diego Carmona

Diego is a postdoctoral fellow working with Marc Johnson in collaboration with the Ness Lab. Diego is trying to find out how the molecular evolution of defense genes differs between sexual and asexual plants.

Fathiya Mohamed

Fathiya's research is uncovering the rate and pattern of de novo transposable elements in the Chlamydomonas genome. She is using whole genome sequence from 85 MA lines in combination with whole genome data from natural populations to compare the patterns of segregating vs. de novo transposable elemnents


Jaspreet is working to describe the role of recombination in the mating type locus of Chlamydomonas. The mating type locus, like sex chromosomes, is expected to have little to no recombination but recent work has put this widely held view in doubt. Jaspreet is quantifying both the patterns of recombination in the mating type locus and the consequences for selection and drift in this important region. 

Ibrahim El-hamamy

Sometimes aligning short-read sequences to divergent genomic regions just doesn't work. Ibrahim is using targeted de novo assembly of the mating type locus of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to uncover the extent of structural variation amongst mating type alleles.

Daniel Kim

Salt tolerance of plants and soil microbes is an increasingly important challenge as agriculatural and urban run-off raise salt levels in the soil and water.  Daniel is collaborating closely with postdoctoral fellow Josianne Lachapelle to assay plasticity and salt tolerance of naturally occuring strains of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and to understand how they may adapt to this new pressure.

devon du vernet

Mutations do not occur uniformly across sites in the genome. The heterogenety in mutation rate is predicted by a few key genomuc propertes. Devon's research is using a model of mutability at indidual sites to address how variation in mutation rate amongst genes influences patterns of diversity, drift and selection in Cr. reinhardtii