Kevin Wright

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Research Interests

I completed my PhD at Duke University co-advised by Dr. Mark Rausher and Dr. John Willis. I am broadly interested in genetic architecture of adaptive traits. My PhD thesis focused on the evolution of copper tolerance in Mimulus guttatus populations inhabiting mines in Copperopolis, CA. Previous research by Mark Macnair has demonstrated that tolerance is conferred by a single locus. David Lowry and I are collaborating with Mark Macnair to map this tolerance locus. I have conducted full QTL analysis to map loci which modify the strength of copper tolerance. I am interested in determining how these loci interact and affect fitness on the copper mine.

My work in the Rausher Lab is focused on modeling the evolution of metabolic networks. I am interested in how natural selection on the products of these networks affects the genes comprising these networks. Metabolic pathways are highly interactive systems in which changes in upstream enzymes generate cascading effects throughout a system. Upstream enzymes have the greatest effect on the rate of flux through the pathway. Conversely, developmental networks are more buffered to perturbation because of the relationship between transcription factors and their target genes and the ubiquity of negative feedback loops. The genetic interactions in these networks affect how they respond to natural selection. In metabolic systems, adaptive genetic changes occur in upstream enzymes because downstream enzymes have little effect on metabolic flux. Genetic changes have more local effects in developmental networks, thus selection on a product of this network will result in changes in the genes directly generating that target.

Field Site

Central smelter at Copperopolis, Ca
Mimulus cupriphilis in Copperopolis, Ca
Napoleon Mine,_California


• Hunter, B., Wright, K.M., Bomblies, K. Short read sequencing in studies of natural variation and adaptation. Current Opinions in Plant Biology. In press. • Strasburg, J., N. Sherman, K. M. Wright, L. Moyle, J. H. Willis, L. Rieseberg. (2012) What can patterns of differentiation across plant genomes tell us about adaptation and speciation? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 1587: 364-373. • K.M. Wright and M.D. Rausher. (2010) The evolution of control and the distribution of adaptive mutations in a metabolic pathway. Genetics. 184: 483-502. • O'Keefe, K.J., O.K. Silander, H. McCreery, D.M. Weinreich, K.M. Wright, L. Chao, S. Edwards, S. Remold, P.E. Turner. (2010) Geographic differences in sexual reassortment in RNA phage. Evolution, 64: 3010-3023. • Lowry, D.B., J.L. Modliszewski, K.M. Wright, C.A. Wu, J.H. Willis. (2008) The strength and genetic basis of reproductive isolating barriers in flowering plants. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 363: 3009-3021. • Wu, C.A., D.B. Lowry, A.M. Cooley, K.M. Wright, Y.W. Lee, and J.H. Willis. (2008) Mimulus is an emerging model system for the integration of ecological and genomic studies. Heredity. 100: 220-230. • Kandul, N.P., K.M. Wright, E.V. Kandul, and M.A.F. Noor. (2006) No evidence for learned mating discrimination in male Drosophila pseudoobscura. BMC Evol. Biol., 6: 54-58. • Silander, O.K., D.M. Weinreich, K.M. Wright, K.J. O'Keefe, C.U. Rang, P.E. Turner, and L. Chao (2005) Widespread genetic exchange among terrestrial bacteriophages. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 102:19009 - 19014.


PhD. Duke University. 2010.

BS. Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. University of Califonnia, San Diego. 2003.

Contact Information

Source Code

Source code for hitchhiking simulations discussed in Wright, K.M., D. Lloyd, D.B. Lowry, M.R. Macnair, J.H. Willis. Indirect evolution of hybrid lethality due to linkage with selected locus in Mimulus guttatus. PLoS Biology. Media:hitchhiking_model.c