Rob W Ness

michael-phillips2 Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Campus: UTM 
CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:

Graduate Programs:
Cell & Systems Biology

Titles and Honors:Academic or Administrative Appointments:Education:
Ph.D. University of Toronto 2011, BSc Queen’s University 2002


Mailing Address
Department of Biology
University of Toronto
3359 Mississauga Road
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6


Contact Information
Office phone: 905-569-5764 Office: DV 3043
Lab: DV-1075
Lab phone:


Research Areas
Comparative Genomics
Functional Genomics
Evolutionary Biology
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
Plant Biology
In the Ness lab we investigate how the generation of variation by mutation and recombination interacts with genetic drift and natural selection to drive evolution. Our work combines natural and experimental populations with new fangled genomic technologies.

Mutation creates all new genetic variants but despite this we understand relatively little about what determine the mutation rate and how the input of new mutations depends on the individual, their environment and how the creation of new mutations changes across the genome. We use a combination of experimental evolution, whole-genome sequencing and bioinformatics to try and address these questions.

Recombination shuffles variation created by mutation into new combinations. This shuffling affects whether natural selection is able to increase the frequency of adaptive mutations and purge harmful mutations. But there are species that lack recombination because they are asexual or inbreeding. And what’s more there are genomic regions without recombination – like sex chromosomes. So how does variation in recombination change genome function and the course of evolution?

The fate of variation created by mutation and recombination is decided by the balance between drift and selection. In the Ness lab we combine direct estimates of mutation and recombination from lab studies with population genomics to try and tease apart how drift and selection are determining the direction of genome evolution and influencing the functioning of the genome.




The Ness lab investigates how mutation and recombination interact with selection and genetic drift to drive evolution. We combine natural and experimental populations with new fangled genomic technologies.