Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Sophia Ahmed

Research Fellow in Precision Medicine
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Background: I graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds in 2003 in the area of population genetics of the African fig tree Ficus sycomorus. After several years of working as a postdoc around the UK and France I have recently returned to the Centre for Plant Sciences as Marie Curie Research Fellow. My work is in the area of population genetics and genomics. My current research is focused on haploid sex chromosomes.

Contact:  Off Campus St James', email address for  

You can read more about Dr Ahmed's interests here:
http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=595

Research Interests

Evolution of U and V sex chromosomes

Sexual reproduction is widespread biological phenomena shared throughout the tree of life.  It has arisen independently in all the major groups yet despite numerous independent evolutionary events, it shares a myriad of features among the eukaryotes.   I am interested in sex determination and the nature of specialised genes that cause an individual to become male or female.

My current work focuses on sex determination in mosses, a basal clade in the evolutionary lineage.  The mosses provide a very useful tool for evolutionary genetic studies because there exists an array of molecular tools available for their study.  A fascinating aspect of their biology is that they undergo an alternation of generations whereby the haploid gametophyte stage of their life cycle is dominant, during which time sexual phenotypic traits and sex linked genes are expressed.  Because sex chromosomes in mosses are haploid they have been denoted U and V to differentiate them from XY and ZW systems.

Current theories of the evolution of sex chromosomes and the predicted effects of suppression of recombination are well researched in diploid systems but are yet to be empirically tested in moss UV systems.  My research aims to use genomic and transcriptomic methods to address this gap in the current understanding of sex chromosome evolution outside the major diploid Eukaryotes.