Darren Obbard

Research Interests

Darren Obbard

I am interested in the molecular basis of adaptive evolution. By applying population-genetic approaches to host-parasite systems, I hope to understand how the selective pressure exerted by host-parasite interaction translates into adaptive change in the genome.

Most of my current work focuses on Drosophila and their viral pathogens, but I also have side interests in other pathogens and parasites of wild drosophila, and host-parasite coevolution in other insect systems, such as Anopheles mosquitoes, and nearly-insects, such as Daphnia.


When Where What
2022-Present University of Edinburgh Professor of Evolutionary Genetics
2018-2022 University of Edinburgh Lecturer, then Reader in Evolutionary Genetics
2013-2018 University of Edinburgh Chancellor's Research Fellow, salary funded by the University of Edinburgh
2008-2013 University of Edinburgh Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow "The demography, population genetics and genome evolution of viral pathogens in an innate immunity model"
2004-2008 University of Edinburgh Wellcome Trust Grant to Tom Little "Pathogen-mediated selection on the immunity genes of disease carrying mosquitoes in the genus Anopheles"
2000-2004 University of Oxford D.Phil. "Genetic variation and sexual system evolution in the annual mercuries" supervised by Dr. John Pannell and Dr. Stephen Harris in the department of Plant Sciences
1997-2000 University of Cambridge B.A. (Hons) Natural Sciences (Part II Plant Sciences)

Representative Publications

Wang Y, McNeil P, Abdulazeez R, Pascual M, Johnston SE, Keightley PD, Obbard DJ (2023) Variation in mutation, recombination, and transposition rates in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans Genome Research 33:587-598 [bioRxiv from 14th September 2022]

Obbard DJ, Shi M, Roberts KE, Longdon B, Dennis AB (2020) A new lineage of segmented RNA viruses infecting animals Virus Evolution 6(1):vez061 [bioRxiv from 21st August 2019]

Palmer WH, Medd NC, Beard PM, Obbard DJ (2018) Isolation of a natural DNA virus of Drosophila melanogaster, and characterisation of host resistance and immune responses PLOS Pathogens 14(6):e1007050. [bioRxiv from 7th November 2017] [Featured in TWiV 522]

Waldron FM, Stone GS, Obbard DJ, (2018). Metagenomic sequencing suggests a diversity of RNA interference-like responses to viruses across multicellular eukaryotes PLoS Genet 14(7): e1007533

Webster CL, Waldron FM, Robertson S, Crowson D, Ferrari G, Quintana JF, Brouqui J-M, Bayne EH, Longdon B, Buck AH, Lazzaro BP, Akorli J, Haddrill PR, Obbard DJ, (2015) The discovery, distribution, and evolution of viruses associated with Drosophila melanogaster PLoS Biology 13(7): e1002210.

Obbard DJ, Maclennan J, Kim K-W, Rambaut A, O'Grady PM, Jiggins FM, (2012) Estimating divergence dates and substitution rates in the Drosophila phylogeny. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29 (11): 3459-3473

Longdon B, Hadfield JD, Webster CL, Obbard* DJ, Jiggins* FM (2011) Host phylogeny determines viral persistence and replication in novel hosts PLoS Pathogens 7(9):e1002260

Obbard DJ, Welch JJ, Kim K-W, Jiggins FM (2009) Quantifying Adaptive Evolution in the Drosophila Immune System. PLoS Genet 5(10): e1000698.

Obbard DJ, Gordon KHJ, Buck AH, Jiggins FM (2009) The evolution of RNAi as a defence against viruses and transposable elements. [Review] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series B 364 99-115.

Obbard DJ, Jiggins FM, Halligan DL, Little TJ (2006). Natural selection drives extremely rapid evolution in antiviral RNAi genes. Current Biology 16: 580-585.

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