Luisa Pallares

Evolutionary Genomics of Complex Traits

Friedrich Miescher Laboratory
Faculty in: TIPP, IMPRS


  • PhD at MPI for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, 2015
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, MPI for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, 2015-2016
  • HFSP Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University, USA, 2016-2021
  • Max Planck Research Group Leader at the FML since February 2022


Research Interest

Our research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of between-individual variation in complex traits – traits that are regulated by a large number of genomic loci (see Tautz, Reeves, & Pallares 2020) - and how such complex genetic architectures, instead of being static properties of a trait, get re-shaped when populations are exposed to different environments (genotype-by-environment interactions or GxE, see Pallares et. al. Nat Gen 2023). To explore these questions within the context of natural genetic variation, we use wild-derived outbred Drosophila melanogaster populations as model system. We integrate experimental and analytical tools across the fields of quantitative and population genetics, molecular and computational biology, and use experimental evolution to generate and analyze large-scale genomics datasets.
In addition to our interest in the genetic basis of morphological (see Pallares et. al., PLoS Gen 2015) and transcriptional variation (Pallares et. al. bioRxiv), we are particularly interested in understanding if/how phenotypic robustness is regulated in such traits (Wolf et. al. PLoS Gen 2023). That is, we aim to understand not only why individuals in a population look different from each other, but also why some individuals are more vulnerable than others when exposed to stressful/new environments. For this, we study the genetic regulation of phenotypic variance as a proxy for robustness, and aim to understand the role of such loci in the adaptation process.
Conceptually, our research tackles long-standing questions in evolutionary biology including the genotype-phenotype map and its context-dependent nature, and the (apparent) conflict between robustness and evolvability.

Available PhD Projects


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