David Duvernell

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Contact Information

·         Office Location: SL 0325

·         Office Phone: (618) 650-3468

·         Lab: SL 3222

·         Email: dduvern@siue.edu

·         Fax: (618) 650-3174

·         Mailing Address: Dept. of Biol. Sci., Box 1651, SIUE, Edwardsville, IL 62026

Courses Taught

Biol 111 - Contemporary Biology

Biol 220 - Genetics

Biol 327 - Evolutionary Biology

Biol 452/552 - Molecular Genetics

Biol 422 - Population Genetics

Biol 497 - Senior Assignment

Research Interests

My research interests are in population genetics and genome evolution. Active research projects in my lab involve population genetics and evolutionary histories of several fish species with a focus on ecological adaptation and speciation, and the evolution of the L1 family of retrotransposable elements in vertebrate genomes with a particular focus on teleost fish genomes.

Phylogeography, Ecology and Reproductive Isolation among Topminnow Species in the Fundulus notatus Complex - This integrative research program, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southern Mississippi, investigates the relationships among historical phylogeography, ecological affinities, resource competition and reproductive isolation in explaining the distribution and diversity of killifishes that make up the Fundulus notatus species complex. This group of stream dwelling fishes represents an ideal system to investigate fundamental questions in evolutionary biology, population genetics and ecology. The complex includes at least three evolutionarily distinct species that exhibit similar ecological requirements and broadly overlapping geographic ranges that encompass a variety of biotic zones. Numerous vicariance events in isolated drainages have acted over time to set up natural, replicated “experiments” in which numerous contact zones allow species interactions to be observed and quantified in nature. Additionally, members of this group are readily transferred to common garden settings in the lab, providing an ideal study organism for the construction of controlled mesocosm and mate choice experiments.

Retrotransposable Elements in Fish Genomes – My lab is engaged in molecular studies of the evolutionary dynamics of the L1sw retrotransposable element family in fish genomes. Retrotransposable elements are "selfish DNA" sequences that are capable of directing their own replication within genomes. They are related to the retroviruses and encode some of the same enzymes (most notably the reverse transcriptase enzyme). Retrotransposable elements are ubiquitous in all eukaryotic genomes and are an important source of new mutations. Those mutations are often deleterious, and when they occur, may lead to genetic diseases. By studying the population genetics and molecular evolution of retrotransposable elements we can learn more about the interactions between the elements and genomes within which they are found, and gain insight into the reasons why they have persisted over evolutionary time. The L1sw family is evolutionarily most closely related to the L1  family found in mammalian genomes. The L1 family is the most prominent family of retrotransposable elements in mammals representing about 15-20% of the mammalian genome. Several interesting contrasts exist between the L1sw and L1 families, and we are exploring the nature of these differences in order to gain insight into the evolution of these respective element families.

Biographical Information


·         B.A., Drury University, 1992

·         M.S., Saint Louis University, 1994

·         Ph.D., Virginia Tech, 1998


·         1998-2000 Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stonybrook University

·         2000-2006 Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, SIUE

·         2006-2012 Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, SIUE

·         2012-present Professor, Biological Sciences, SIUE

Last updated August 2012