Chris Jiggins is an evolutionary biologist who studies adaptation and the origin of species. In Heliconius butterflies, his work has shown how hybridisation and subsequent introgression of genes between species can generate novel wing patterns. This work has contributed to a fundamental shift in how we view the tree of life. In fact the ‘tree’ is much more of a 'network': reticulate relationships are seen in the genomes of species and even among distantly related lineages. His work has also highlighted the importance of gene regulatory changes in the evolution of diversity, and the repeated use of the same genes in evolutionary change, so called 'hotspot' genes.
His book ‘The Ecology and Evolution of Heliconius Butterflies’ (2017) provides an overview of this work and brings together several decades of research on these butterflies. Chris also works more broadly in insect genomics, identifying genes underlying insecticide resistance in pests and sequencing the genome of the biocatalyst species, the black soldier fly.
Professor of Evolutionary Biology (2014), Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Interest and expertise
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
Developmental biology, Genetics (excluding population genetics)
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Ecology (incl behavioural ecology), Evolution, Population genetics