Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Charlesworth, Brian
Location University of Edinburgh
Primary Field Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Field Genetics
 Election Citation
Charlesworth has become a major figure in population genetics by empirical and theoretical studies of effects of inbreeding, evolution of mating systems and of recombination rates, including the explanation of loss of genes from the Y chromosome. His broad and deep work makes him a leader of the field.
 Research Interests
Charlesworth's research is in the general area of evolutionary biology. His early work was on the theory of selection in age-structured populations. This showed that, while there is no universal exact measure of fitness in this case, useful approximations for describing the effects of selection on life-history traits can be obtained. He applied these results to evolutionary theories of aging, and pioneered tests of these theories, using Drosophila melanogaster as experimental material. His later work involved application of population genetics methods to studies of the evolution of many different aspects of genetic systems, including genetic recombination, inbreeding and outbreeding mechanisms, separate sexes and sex chromosomes, segregation distortion, and repetitive DNA. He contributed extensively to the theory of background selection, according to which the elimination of selectively deleterious mutations can affect patterns of molecular variation and evolution at sites that are linked to the targets of selection. He has helped to develop and apply methods for estimating selection on both coding and non-coding sequence variants within populations. He has also contributed to a variety of other topics in evolutionary biology, including kin selection theory, methods for measuring evolutionary rates from fossil data, and genetic mechanisms of speciation.

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