Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

MICHAEL MØLLER HANSEN - Population genomics

My area of research is population genomics and evolutionary biology. I use fishes as model organisms in particular. In my group we use molecular genetics and genomics data to study the demographic history of species and populations, their adaptation to environmental conditions, and their potential to respond to future environmental change. For instance, this is highly relevant in a climate change perspective; can populations and species adapt through evolution to a warmer climate and altered seasonal change? I am also generally interested in how humans alter evolutionary trajectories, for instance through (over)fishing, eutrophication and fragmentation of habitats.


Ongoing projects: 

Methylation in European eel genomes: its role in adaptation and speciation. Funded by the Danish Council for Independent Reasearch, Natural Sciences.

Adaptation is a key concept in evolutionary biology that may now to some extent face redefinition. Hence, epigenetics and particularly methylation is important for phenotypic plasticity, and epigenetically based adaptive traits may be inherited despite not having a genetic basis. European eel shows a panmictic life history precluding genetically based local adaptation. We analyze genome-wide methylation in eel larvae from the Sargasso Sea and juvenile and adults from climatically and environmentally highly divergent regions to test the hypothesis that lack of local adaptation is compensated by epigenetic variation. Moreover, we will analyze methylation in genomes of pure European and American eel and their hybrids for a) determining whether species background or the environment determines epigenetic imprints and for b) testing the hypothesis that reactivation of transposons in hybrids due to altered methylation is an important factor maintaining post-zygotic reproductive isolation between species. Due to intense genotyping and whole genome sequencing as part of the project, it also involves a number of spin-off data and projects encompassing 1) determining the speciation history of European and American eel, 2) determining spatial and temporal patterns of the occurrence of European x American eel hybrids in Iceland and 3) determining which genomic regions can introgress or are selected against in European x American eel hybrids.



MARGEN is a research cluster funded by EU Interreg (Øresund-Kattegat_Skagerrak). MARGEN focuses on research within marine genomics, population genetics, marine ecology and fish biology. It includes research groups from the following research Institutes

Norway: Institute of Marine Research, University of Oslo, University of Agder, The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA). Denmark: Aarhus University, Technical University of Denmark. Sweden: University of Gothenburg.