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C.Y. Chan Professor of Arts and Sciences

Hopi Hoekstra

C.Y. Chan Professor of Arts and Sciences

Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Professor of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology

(Currently not accepting students)


Our research focuses on understanding how variation is generated and maintained in natural populations. In particular, we are interested in understanding both the proximate (i.e., molecular, genetic, developmental and neurobiological mechanisms) and ultimate (i.e., timing, strength and agent of selection) causes of evolutionary change. Thus, much of our research focuses on identifying and characterizing the molecular changes responsible for traits that affect fitness of organisms in the wild. To this end, we use an interdisciplinary approach combining molecular techniques (ranging from next-gen sequencing and transcriptomics to cell-based pharmacological assays and in vivo viral vectors), population-genetic tests, classical genetic crosses, lab-based behavioral assays and field-based experiments. We focus primarily on natural populations of rodentsĀ in which ecological and genomic information can be combined to address fundamental questions about the evolution of morphological, behavioral and reproductive diversity.

Selected Publications

Mallarino R, Henegar C, Mirasierra M, Manceau MC, Shradin C, Vallejo M, Beronja S, Barsh GS, Hoekstra HE. 2016. Developmental mechanisms of stripe patterns in rodents. Nature 539:518-523.

Fisher HS, Jacobs-Palmer E, Lassance JM, Hoekstra HE. 2016. The genetic basis and fitness consequences of sperm midpiece size in deer mice. Nature Communications 7:13652.

Linnen, C.R., Y.-P. Poh, B.K. Peterson, R.D.H. Barrett, J.G. Larson, J.D. Jensen and H.E. Hoekstra. 2013. Adaptive evolution of multiple traits through multiple mutations at a single gene. Science 339:1312-1316.

Weber, J.N., B.K. Peterson and H.E. Hoekstra. 2013. Discrete genetic modules are responsible for the evolution of complex burrowing behaviour in deer mice. Nature 493:402-405.

Barrett R.D.H. and H.E. Hoekstra. 2011. Molecular spandrels: tests of adaptation at the genetic level. Nature Reviews Genetics 12:767-780.

Manceau, M., V.S. Domingues, R. Mallarino and H.E. Hoekstra. 2011. The developmental role of Agouti in color pattern evolution. Science 331:1062-1065.

Fisher, H.S. and H.E. Hoekstra. 2010 Competition drives cooperation among closely-related sperm of deer mice. Nature 463:801-803.

Linnen, C.R., E.P. Kingsley, J.D. Jensen and H.E. Hoekstra. 2009. On the origin and spread of an adaptive allele in deer mice. Science 325:1095-1098.

Hoekstra, H.E. and J.A. Coyne. 2007. The locus of evolution: evo devo and the genetics of adaptation. Evolution 61:995-1016.

Hoekstra, H.E., R.J. Hirschmann, R.A. Bundey, P. Insel and J.P. Crossland. 2006. A single amino acid mutation contributes to adaptive color pattern in beach mice. Science 313:101-104.