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Thomas Flatt - SNF Professor

Research group

The Flatt lab studies the evolution and mechanisms of life history and aging, using the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as an experimental model. For more details on our research see here.


Thomas Flatt is a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne. Prior to his position in Lausanne, he was a permanent group leader at the Institute of Population Genetics at the Vetmeduni Vienna and a faculty member of the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics. He received his M.Sc. in population biology from the University of Basel in 1999 for work on phenotypic plasticity, supervised by Prof. Stephen Stearns and Prof. Richard Shine (Sydney). He earned his Ph.D. in 2004 for work on the hormonal regulation of life history traits and trade-offs from the University of Fribourg (supervised by Prof. Tadeusz Kawecki). After his Ph.D. he was a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Marc Tatar at Brown University (Providence, USA), sponsored by the SNSF and the Roche Research Foundation. In 2011 he co-edited a book on the genetic and physiological mechanisms of life history evolution (Oxford University Press 2011, with Andreas Heyland; link to book page). He has served on the editorial boards of several journals, including as a Deciding Editor for the Journal of Evolutionary Biology; currently he is an Associate Editor at Evolution and a contributing member of the Faculty of 1000. In 2012 he was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study.

The Flatt group studies the evolution and mechanisms of life history and aging, using Drosophila as a model system. A major focus is on understanding the genomic basis of evolutionary changes in life history traits and lifespan in natural and evolved laboratory populations. Another focus is on the hormonal regulation of life history trade-offs (especially the trade-off between reproduction and lifespan) and the endocrine modulation of aging.

Selected publications

Kapun, M., Fabian, D.K., Goudet, J., and T. Flatt. 2016. Genomic Evidence for Adaptive Inversion Clines in Drosophila melanogaster. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33:1317-1336.

Flatt, T. 2016. Genomics of clinal variation in Drosophila: disentangling the interactions of selection and demography. Molecular Ecology, 25:1023-1026.

Fabian, D. K., Lack, J. B., Mathur, V., Schlötterer, C., Schmidt, P.S., Pool, J.E, and T. Flatt. 2015. Spatially varying selection shapes life history clines among populations of Drosophila melanogaster from sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 28:826-840.

Klepsatel, P., Galikova, M, Huber, C.D., and T. Flatt. 2014. Similarities and differences in altitudinal versus latitudinal variation for morphological traits in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 68:1385-1398.

Kapun, M., van Schalwyk, H., McAllister, B., Flatt, T., and C. Schlötterer. 2014. Inference of chromosomal inversion dynamics from Pool-Seq data in natural and laboratory populations of D. melanogaster. Molecular Ecology 23:1813-1827.

Klepsatel, P., Galikova, M., De Maio, N., Huber, C., Schlötterer, C., and T. Flatt. 2013. Variation in Thermal Performance and Reaction Norms Among Populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 67:3573-3587

Flatt, T., Amdam, G.V., Kirkwood, T.B.L., and S. W. Omholt. 2013. Life-history evolution and the polyphenic regulation of somatic maintenance and survival. Quarterly Review of Biology 88:185-218.

Rus, F., Flatt, T., Tong, M., Kleino, A., Aggarwal, K., Okuda, K., Yates, E., Tatar, M., and N. Silverman. 2013. Ecdysone Triggered PGRP-LC Expression Controls Drosophila Innate Immunity. EMBO Journal 32:1626-1638.

Klepsatel, P., Galikova, M., De Maio, N., Ricci, S., Schlötterer, C., and T. Flatt. 2013. Reproductive and post-reproductive life history of wild-caught Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26:1508-1520.

Hansen, M.,* Flatt, T.*, and H. Aguilaniu*. 2013. Reproduction, Fat Metabolism, and Life Span: What Is the Connection? Cell Metabolism 17:10-19. [*Equal contribution].

Fabian, D.K., Kapun, M., Nolte, V., Kofler, R., Schmidt, P.S., Schlötterer, C. and T. Flatt. 2012. Genome-wide patterns of latitudinal differentiation among populations of Drosophila melanogaster from North America. Molecular Ecology 21:4748–4769.

Flatt, T., and A. Heyland (Editors). 2011. Mechanisms of Life History Evolution. The Genetics and Physiology of Life History Traits and Trade-Offs. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 478 pages, 75 illustrations, ISBN 978-0-19-956877-2. (for more information on the book see here)

Flatt, T. 2011. Survival costs of reproduction in Drosophila. Experimental Gerontology 46:369-375.

Flatt, T. 2009. Ageing: Diet and longevity in the balance. Nature 462:989-990.

Flatt, T., and P.S. Schmidt. 2009. Integrating evolutionary and molecular genetics of aging. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1790:951-962.

Flatt, T., Heyland, A., Rus, F., Porpiglia, E., Sherlock, C., Yamamoto, R., Garbuzov, A., Palli, S.R., Tatar, M., and N. Silverman. 2008. Hormonal regulation of the humoral innate immune response in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Experimental Biology 211: 2712-2724.

Flatt, T., Min, K.-J., D’Alterio, C., Villa-Cuesta, E., Cumbers, J., Lehmann, R., Jones, D.L., and M. Tatar. 2008. Drosophila germ-line modulation of insulin signaling and lifespan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:6368-6373

Flatt, T., and D.E.L. Promislow. 2007. Physiology: still pondering an age-old question. Science 318:1255-1256.

Flatt, T., and T.J. Kawecki. 2007. Juvenile hormone as a regulator of the trade-off between reproduction and life span in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 61:1980-1991.



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