Christian Parisod

Department of Biology

PER 23 bu. 1.02
Ch. Du Musée 15
1700 Fribourg
PER 23, 1.02


My research interest is to couple genome evolution and ecological responses of plants.

My work has thus followed a natural intellectual arc from molecular processes generating diversity to its (adaptive) sorting from local up to biogeographic scales. In my PhD (University of Lausanne), I decided to focus on Buckler Mustards (Biscutella laevigata) as a textbook example of species having successfully radiated across varied ecological niches in the Alps following whole genome duplication. I then decided to use postdoctoral stays to expend my expertise towards molecular drivers and investigated genome evolution in various species as a postdoc in France, Norway and Switzerland. Launching my own research group on transposable elements (TEs) and speciation, I worked mostly with Poaceae and Brassicaceae species. In the last years, I gathered biological and genomic resources to assess how genomic variation and transcriptional plasticity impact successful expansion of diploid and polyploid Buckler Mustards in the Alps.

The overarching objective of my work is to understand interactions between genome dynamics and adaptive processes driven by environmental factors. My past research has thus developed along my main lines of interest that are currently integrated in our work on Buckler Mustards.

-Long interested in TEs as genomic drivers of evolutionary radiation, I early discovered that hybridization induces genome-wide restructuring and epigenetic changes around TEs. It has stimulated my subsequent projects on experimental and natural populations of wild wheats to show how genome instability related to TE-specific changes is associated with reproductive isolation and therefore speciation. This calls for a better understanding of the role of genome dynamics in driving evolutionary diversification.

-Constantly in need of solid approaches to associate genome-wide variation and environmental heterogeneity to identify loci shaped by ecological cues, I contributed to developing approaches integrating whole genome sequencing data to characterize genomic variation (SNPs to TE polymorphisms) and associate it with abiotic factors derived from remote sensing at very high-resolution. Evidence of TE-mediated variation shaping recombination along chromosomes is consistent with their role in the rise of complex adaptive functions such as phenology along ecological gradients calls for a better appraisal of the impact of environmental constraints on genome variation.

-Thrilled by the alpine flora and its evolution, I happily engage into actions promoting its understanding and conservation with responsibilities in the scientific journal Alpine Botany ( and the Swiss Botanical Society (