Sex and Evolution


How and why sex evolved is a long-standing question in evolutionary biology, one of the hardest according to John Maynard Smith. In the past, this question has been mostly addressed by theoretical work. New approaches such as experimental evolution, next-generation sequencing and genomics, and phylogenetic methods to study character evolution are revolutionizing the field.

In our group, we are using some of these approaches to develop three lines of research:

1. We are working on the evolution of sex determination. We have been focusing on the evolution of sex chromosomes in animals and plants.

2. We are working on the evolution of reproductive organs. We have been focusing on the evolution of the flower in angiosperms, Charles Darwin’s “abominable mystery”.

3. We are working on the evolution of sexual systems, the transition among them and the impact on lineage diversification. We have been focusing on understanding why dioecy (species with separate sexes) is much rarer in angiosperms than in animals.


Aline Muyle has been awarded one of the 2016 L’Oréal-UNESCO fellowships for Women in Science

Watch the video of her 10min presentation (in French) here

A work in collaboration with Alex Widmer’s group (ETH Zurich) on the evolution of sex-biased genes in plants is out in Nature plants

Looking for a Master degree internship?

Contact us!

Raquel Tavares, in collaboration with Dany Werck’s group in Strasbourg, has published a paper in Nature Communications about the evolution of P450 genes.