Workgroup of human evolutionary genetics

Estonian Biocentre

The group's R&D activities are focused on understanding the nature of human genetic variation. We concentrate on spatial and temporal stratification of the genetic diversity of Estonians.

Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for shaping the genetic diversity of humans is pivotal for disentangling the relations between genetic variation and disease. This task is best tackled with the help of a panel of globally distributed complete and high quality human genome sequences shaped by differences in environment and demographic histories. Resolving regional diversity patterns is of equal interest and is here addressed by joint analyses of the large panel of high coverage genome sequences from the Estonian population and the available global genome diversity reference panels.

We will reveal fine scale genetic structure of the Estonian population using methods based on allele frequency differences and haplotype sharing patterns. This will enable us to disentangle the effect of the three main genetic ancestry components in Europeans (Hunter-gatherer, Neolithic and Bronze Age expansions) on diet-related and other conditions. We shall study the roles of demographic history and local adaptation in the global patterns of mutation processes in humans.
The workgroup is led by Dr. Mait Metspalu who has over 10 years of experience in evolutionary genetics and has co-authored numerous papers on the subject. Overall the research group has been on the population genetics scene for over 20 years starting with phylogenetics and phylogeography based approaches in mid 90’ and adding genome wide genotyping and whole genome sequence data based analyses since mid 2000’.

Mait Metspalu, PhD, Director
Richard Villems, Dr Sci, MD, Leading researcher
Doron Behar, PhD, MD, Senior researcher
Gyaneshwer Chaubey, PhD, Senior researcher
Toomas Kivisild, PhD, Senior researcher
Alena Kushniarevich, PhD, Senior researcher
Ene Metspalu, PhD, Senior researcher
Luca Pagani, PhD, Senior researcher
Maere Reidla, PhD, Senior researcher
Siiri Rootsi, PhD, Senior researcher
Lauri Saag, PhD, Senior researcher
Kristiina Tambets, PhD, Senior researcher
Georgi Hudjašov, PhD, Researcher
Mari Järve, PhD, Researcher
Hovhannes Sahakyan, PhD, Researcher
Monika Karmin, MSc, Researcher
Erwan Pennarun, MSc, Researcher
Erika Tamm, MSc, Researcher
Anne-Mai Ilumäe, MSc, Junior researcher
Sergey Litvinov, PhD, Experienced researcher
Bayazit Yunusbayev, PhD, Experienced researcher
Jüri Parik, MSc, Head of laboratory
Tuuli Reisberg, MSc, Senior engineer
Anu Solnik, MSc, Senior technician
Erik Prank, Specialist
Merlin Soopere, Specialist
Merle Vetemäe, Specialist

Rodion Melamed, MSc
Ajai Kumar Pathak, MSc
Helen Post, MSc
Lehti Saag, MSc
Kai Tätte, MSc

Merilin Raud, BA, Executive secretary

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