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Research Fellows Directory

Xiangjiang Zhan

Professor Xiangjiang Zhan

Research Fellow


Cardiff University

Research summary

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) with extreme altitude, low temperatures and low oxygen levels imposes unique ecological constraints on the species that occupy the landscape and unusual morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations have been documented for numerous taxa over many years. Understanding of the ecological, evolutionary and genetic basis for these adaptations, has proved more challenging.

We have started to uncover signatures of selection by first sequencing the saker falcon genome. Then, using a candidate gene approach referencing the draft genome, we found that exonic SNPs were key to resolving genetic differentiation between the QTP and non-QTP sakers, and were able to infer five SNPs as being subject to directional selection. Now we are at the stage of taking our research from candidate genes and the reference genome to a population genomics level. This project therefore builds on the existing collaboration between the teams led by Prof Michael Bruford of Cardiff University and Dr Xiangjiang Zhan, 1000 Talent Research Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and focuses on developing approaches to address the many statistical challenges in the field, to more efficiently identify signatures of selection in the omics data foreseen for the project.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

New methods to study altitudinal adaptation on the Tibetan Plateau

Scheme: Newton Advanced Fellowship

Dates: Mar 2015 - Mar 2018

Value: £102,789.30

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