Luca Soldini

I developed a keen interest towards selfish genetic elements, the genetic conflicts they create, and how these features contribute to evolution.


I started working on selfish genetic elements associated with supergene underlying social organization in ants: the lethal maternal effect in the Alpine silver ant Formica selysi, and the green-beard in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta.


For my PhD, I am now focusing on the role of selfish genetic elements and genetic conflict in the evolution of atypical reproductive modes in the stick insect genus Bacillus. Some hybrids of the genus reproduce through hybridogenesis and androgenesis. In the former, hybridogenetic females eliminate paternally inherited genetic material to only transmit the maternally inherited one. In the latter, males hijack eggs from hybridogenetic females to produce offspring lacking a maternal genetic contribution. Both hybridogenesis and androgenesis are extreme cases of selfishness in which whole haplosets gain a two-fold transmission advantage. The aim of my PhD is to unravel some of the proximate mechanisms underlying these selfish reproductive modes to better understand their evolution.

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