Honours project opportunity: Human evolution

We are seeking a motivated undergraduate Honours student to undertake a project that will examine the deep mitochondrial ancestry of modern humans. This project is suitable for students majoring in Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, or Genetics and Genetics at the University of Sydney.

Refining the root region of the human mitochondrial evolutionary tree

Supervisor: Professor Vanessa Hayes, School of Medical Science
Co-supervisor: Professor Simon Ho, School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Tracing patterns of maternally inherited human mitochondrial genome variation in contemporary populations has been an invaluable resource for studying anatomically modern human evolution. The evidence is clear: modern humans emerged in Africa, sharing a common ancestor some 200 thousand years ago. Through sequencing of mitogenomes representing the root region of the maternal human family tree (rare L0 lineages), the Hayes Lab have suggested that our modern human family spent the first over 70 thousand years evolving in Botswana. Recently, the lab has sequenced an additional 100 rare L0 mitogenomes. The student will merge this new data with available rare L0 mitogenomes, to further refine the deepest divergences in our phylogenetic tree, coalescence times, and prehistory of modern humans.