Dr Christian Parisod

Genome dynamics and speciation

Research in my group deals with the association between genome evolution and plant diversification under environmental changes. 

Our current projects are focused on the role of jumping genes (i.e. transposable elements) on structural and functional changes across the genome, and their impact on reproductive isolation in natural plant populations. 

We mainly use polyploid speciation (i.e. merging of genomes associated with multiplication of chromosome sets at the origin of new species) as a model process. Polyploidy indeed is a revolutionary event inducing drastic changes in both genome organization and ecological properties of nascent lineages. 

Read about our current projects and publications below

Current research projects

Our research projects combine genomic and ecological methods to associate the main processes driving plant genome evolution – polyploidy, retrotransposition and genome silencing – with the evolutionary processes of speciation and ecological diversification. We rely on high-throughput sequencing and molecular tools to infer the dynamics of genomes, and use landscape genetics approaches to infer the dynamics of natural populations. Our predictions are further tested with reciprocal transplant and common garden experiments.
Transposable Elements and reproductive isolation in the Buckler Mustard
The polyploid complex Biscutella laevigata is formed of divergent diploid populations and recent autopolyploid lineages. Furthermore, natural tetraploid populations are locally adapted to environmental heterogeneity. In both cases, we explore the impact of Transposable Elements in driving reproductive isolation.
Transposable elements and genome evolution in wild wheats 
Wild wheats (Aegilops spp.) represent a typical plant species complex, with several diploid clusters and allopolyploid derivatives that differentially hybridize in the wild. 
Here, in collaboration with François Felber, we explore the impact of Transposable Elements on genome stability and hybridization among selected polyploids.
GeneScale - Very high-resolution digital elevation models for multi-scale analysis in landscape genomics
At which spatial scale can selection be tracked? Very high-resolution environmental and genome-wide molecular characterization in Arabis alpina shall indicate if local adaptation acts locally or globally.
These projects have received funding by the Swiss National Foundation, the Novartis Foundation and the Velux Stiftung



Senerchia, Felber & Parisod, 2015, Genome reorganization in F1 hybrids uncovers the role of retrotransposons in reproductive isolation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 282: doi 10.1098/rspb.2014.2874

Leempoel, Parisod, Geiser, Daprà, Vittoz & Joost, 2015, Very high resolution digital elevation models: are multi-scale derived variables ecologically relevant? Methods in Ecology and Evolution DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12427

Bardil, Tayalé & Parisod, 2015, Evolutionary dynamics of retrotransposons following autopolyploidy in the Buckler Mustard species complex. Plant Journal: 621–631.


Pajkovic, Lappe, Barman (joint first authors), Parisod, Neueunschwander, Goudet, Alvarez, Guadagnolo, Felber & Arrigo, 2014, Wheat alleles introgress into selfing wild relatives: empirical estimates from Approximate Bayesian Computation in Aegilops triuncialis. Molecular Ecology 23: 5089-5101.

Babst-Kostecka, Parisod, Godé, Vollenweider & Pauwels, 2014, Patterns of genetic divergence among populations of the pseudometallophyte Biscutella laevigata from southern Poland. Plant and Soil 383: 245-256.

Senerchia, Felber & Parisod, 2014, Contrasting evolutionary dynamics of multiple retrotransposons after independent polyploidy events in wild wheats. New Phytologist 202: 975-985. 

Gustafsson, Skrede, Gussarova, Borgen, Rowe, Rieseberg, Brochmann & Parisod, 2014, Genetics of cryptic speciation within an arctic mustard, Draba nivalis. PLoS ONE 9: e93834.

Parisod, Salmon, Ainouche & Grandbastien, 2014, Detecting epigenetic effects of transposable elements in plants. In Plant Epigenetics and Epigenomics (Eds. Spillane & McKeown), Springer, Methods in Molecular Biology 112: 211-217.


Bonchev & Parisod, 2013, Transposable elements and microevolutionary changes in natural populations. Molecular Ecology Resources 13: 765-775.

Geiser, Tayalé & Parisod, 2013, Gènes et environnement: la lunetière lisse pour comprendre l'origine de la biodiversité. L'Ermite Herbu 46: 13-17.

Senerchia, Wicker, Felber & Parisod, 2013, Evolutionary dynamics of LTR retrotransposons in wild wheats assessed with high throughput sequencing. Genome Biology and Evolution  5: 1010-1020.

Tayalé & Parisod, 2013, Natural pathways to polyploidy and consequences for genome reorganization. Cytogenetic and Genome Research 140: 79-96.

Abbott, Albach, Ansell, Arntzen, Baird, Bierne, Boughman, Brelsford, Buerkle, Buggs, Butlin, Dieckmann, Eroukhmanoff, Grill, Helms Cahan, Hermansen, Hewitt, Hudson, Jiggins, Jones, Keller, Marczewski, Mallet, Martinez-Rodriguez, Möst, Mullen, Nichols, Nolte, Parisod, Pfennig, Rice, Ritchie, Seifert, Smadja, Stelkens, Szymura, Väinöla, Wolf & Zinner, 2013, Target Review: Hybridization and speciation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 229-246. 

Parisod, Definod, Sarr, Arrigo & Felber, 2013, Genome-specific introgression between wheat and its wild relative Aegilops triuncialis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 223-228.


Parisod & Senerchia. 2012. Responses of transposable elements to polyploidy. In: Plant Transposable Elements (Eds. Grandbastien & Casacuberta), Topics in Current Genetics, Springer 24: 147-168.

Parisod, Mihri, Clarkson, Lim, Chase, Leitch & Grandbastien. 2012. Differential impact of Transposable Elements on long-term genome diploidization in the allopolyploid Nicotiana section Repandae. PLoS ONE 7: e50352.

Parisod & Holderegger, 2012, Adaptive landscape genetics: pitfalls and benefits. Molecular Ecology 21: 3644–3646.

Parisod, 2012, Polyploids integrate genomic changes and ecological shifts. New Phytologist 193: 297-300.


Arrigo, Guadagnuolo, Parisod & Felber, 2011, Gene flow between wheat and wild relatives: empirical evidence from Aegilops geniculata, Aegilops neglecta and Aegilops triuncialis. Evolutionary Applications 4: 685–695.

Leempoel, Stucki, Parisod & Joost, 2011, Very high resolution digital elevation models (VHR DEMs) and multiscale landscape genomics analysis applied to an alpine plant species. SIGSPATIAL 3: 10-14.

Holderegger, Thiel-Egenter & Parisod, 2011, Marie Brockmann-Jerosch and her influence on Alpine phylogeography. Alpine Botany 121: 5-10.


Parisod, Wipf & Guesewell, 2010, Plant and vegetation responses to a changing environment: an alpine issue. Botanica Helvetica 120: 83-84.

Arrigo, Felber, Parisod, Buerki, Alvarez, David & Guadagnuolo, 2010, Origin and expansion of the allotetraploid Aegilops geniculata, a wild relative of wheat. New Phytologist 184: 1170-1180.

Antonelli, Verola, Parisod & Gustafsson, 2010, Climate cooling promoted the expansion and radiation of a threatened group of South American orchids (Epidendroideae: Laeliinae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 100: 597–607.

Lira-Medeiros, Parisod, Aires Cardoso & Cavalcanti Gomes Ferreira, 2010, Epigenetic variation in mangrove plants occurring in natural contrasting environment. PLoS ONE 5: e10326.

Parisod & Joost, 2010, Divergent selection in trailing versus leading edge populations of Biscutella laevigata. Annals of Botany 105: 655-660.

Parisod, Holderegger & Brochmann, 2010, Evolutionary consequences of autopolyploidy. New Phytologist 186: 5-17.

Parisod, Alix, Just, Petit, Sarilar, Mhiri, Ainouche, Chalhoub & Grandbastien, 2010, Impact of transposable elements in organization and functioning of allopolyploid genomes. New Phytologist 186: 37-45.

2009 and before:

Parisod, Salmon, Tenaillon, Zerjal, Grandbastien & Ainouche, 2009, Rapid structural and epigenetic reorganization near Transposable Elements in hybrid and allopolyploid genomes in Spartina. New Phytologist 183: 1003-1015.

Ainouche, Fortune, Salmon, Parisod, Grandbastien, Fukunaga, Ricou & Misset, 2009, Hybridization, polyploidy and invasion: Lessons from Spartina (Poaceae). Biological Invasions 11: 1159-1173.

Parisod & Bonvin, 2008, Fine-scale genetic structure and marginal processes in an expanding population of Biscutella laevigata L. (Brassicaceae). Heredity 101: 536-542.

Parisod, 2008, Postglacial recolonisation of plants in the western Alps of Switzerland. Botanica Helvetica 118: 1-12.

Parisod & Christin, 2008, Genome-wide association to fine-scale ecological heterogeneity within a continuous population of Biscutella laevigata (Brassicaceae). New Phytologist 178: 436-447.

Parisod & Besnard, 2007, Glacial in situ survival in the Western Alps and polytopic autopolyploidy in Biscutella laevigata L. (Brassicaceae). Molecular Ecology 16: 2755-2767.

Parisod, Trippi & Galland, 2005, Genetic variability and founder effect in the Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia purpurea, in populations introduced into Switzerland: from inbreeding to invasion. Annals of Botany 95: 277-285.


Summer 2013

C. Parisod, K. Torrent, N. Senerchia (PhD thesis defended in 2014), A. Tayalé, M. Rossière, A. Bardil, C. Geiser (PhD thesis defended in 2014), B. Dauphin




Evolutionary Botany
Rue Emile-Argand 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel
Tel : ++41 32 718 23 44
Fax : ++41 32 718 30 01
E-mail: Christian.Parisod@unine.ch


P.D. in evolutionary genetics, University of Neuchatel, 2013

PhD in life sciences, University of Lausanne, 2006

MSc in biology, University of Lausanne, 2002