MIG Seminar – Gavin Huttley – 4th May, 2018

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Andrew Siebel


T: +61 3 8344 0707

Gavin Huttley

Research School of Biology, Australian National University

Friday 4th May
FW Jones Theatre, Medical Building, The University of Melbourne

Statistical models for characterising mutation

As the source of heritable genetic variation, mutation can be considered a primary force in shaping evolution. Efforts to understand genomic features, or to extract information from the analysis of genetic variation, rely on how mutation is represented in statistical models. This is a non-trivial challenge, not least because mutations can arise from a multitude of aetiological mechanisms. For instance, a mutation can originate as a consequence of the fundamental chemistry of DNA, or, via enzyme induced somatic hypermutation during immune cell development. It is widely held that mechanisms of mutation vary in their operation within a genome and between species. I will present, in two parts, the results of my labs research into characterising, and exploiting, this mutation complexity. In the first part, I will consider the case where genetic diversity arising purely from mutation represents the noise to be eliminated from an analysis. This will be illustrated by our work on phylogeny based models of sequence evolution to identify the occurrence of distinctive natural selection processes. The second part concerns the flip-side, where mutations are the signal and the research aim is to resolve the mechanistic components of the mutation spectrum. This will be illustrated by our work on developing machine learning approaches to exploit mutation motifs that discriminate between mutations arising from “normal” processes and from those of a potent mutagen.

Professor Gavin Huttley is a group leader in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University. He obtained a B.Sc from Macquarie University in Sydney, a PhD in Molecular Population Genetics from the University of California, Riverside and undertook postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute (USA). He is a recipient of the Howard Florey Young Investigator award. Professor Huttley’s research is focussed on understanding the role played by mutational processes in the shaping the patterns of within and between species genetic variation.

Enquiries: Andrew Siebel (asiebel@unimelb.edu.au)