This summer two students, Inês Lourenço and Alexandre Reis, from the Instituto Superior Técnico have joined us at the IGC. As part of a collaboration between the Instiuto Gulbenkian de Ciencia and Instituto Superior Técnico, Inês and Alex will be assisting the PCG group with improving the performance of our simulation programs while gaining hands on experience in applied modeling.
Inês Lourenço, who is completing her Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been working with the INFRAGECO team from the Institut de Mathématiques de Toulouse and Lounes Chikhi to improve our understanding of the inverse instantaneous coalescence rate (IICR) under several models of population structure. The IICR has been in development since 2014-2015 as a means to visualize variations among coalescence times within species. Inês has used the scripts developed by Willy Rodriguez to simulate various models of population structure. She has been altering demographic variables (number of demes, gene flow, deme size, and spatial structure) hence exploring the influence population structure on estimated demographic histories. We hope that by understanding how these demographic factors (gene flow, deme size, etc.) influence estimated population size changes we will be able to better interpret genomic data and detect spurious results.
Alexandre, a student of Computer Science and Informatics, is working with Bárbara Parreira to simulate the influence social group structure has on genetic diversity. By simulating social structure, they are able to estimate changes in genetic diversity across generations. Alexandre himself has introduced male dominance into the simulation tool to explore its impact on the genetic diversity of species. To understand what is happening in the field, we need models that incorporate parameters easily related to the real world. This is not the case of classical population genetics models. This simulation tool will provide the means to simulate several primate species and understand the genetic consequences of different types of social systems, which is extremely important for endangered species, such as lemurs.