Dr. Vaishali Katju's Research Into Spontaneous Mutations


Posted: Nov 13, 2013 - 12:00pm

Associate Professor Vaishali Katju

Researchers at the University of New Mexico in the Department of Biology are studying the rate and fitness effects of spontaneous mutations, a central area of study in evolution and biology. The research, enabled through a three-year, $750,000 National Science Foundation grant through the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, will provide researchers with a broad and comprehensive understanding of the evolutionary process with implications across the field of biology including the evolution of complex human disease, drug-resistant bacteria and viruses and cancers.

“Most mutations are harmful,” said UNM Associate Professor Vaishali Katju, who is the grant’s principal investigator. “They are the ultimate cause of most of our heritable diseases and yet, they also provide the genetic fodder for the origin of the wonderful diversity of life we observe all around us.  Without mutations, there is no evolution.  Before mutation result in differences between species, they exist as variants in populations.  In order to understand the probability of the survival and loss of these variants from populations, we need to understand the distribution of the consequences that these mutations have for survival and fecundity, often referred to as fitness in evolutionary biology.”

Read the full article at UNM Newsroom