Improving malaria control through landscape genetics

Prof Richard Nichols (primary)
Biology, SBCS.
Queen Mary, University of London
Prof François Balloux (secondary)
Genetics Institute


Malaria is a major global health threat, and new technologies that generate parasite genomic data may hold the key to improved targeting of resources. Spatial patterns of parasite relatedness can tell us which populations are well-connected, and can hint at possible “sources” and “sinks” of transmission. The student will use large-scale P. falciparum genomic datasets to explore patterns of relatedness in multiple malaria-endemic countries, and will develop novel landscape-genetics approaches for identifying barriers to and corridors of gene flow. These results and methods are of critical value to malaria control programmes.


1) Verity, R. and Nichols, R.A (2016). Estimating the number of subpopulations (K) in structured populations. Genetics 203, 1827-1839

2) Stocks, J., Metheringham, C., Plumb, W., Lee, S., Kelly, L., Nichols, R. & Buggs, R. (2019). Genomic basis of European ash tree resistance to ash dieback fungus. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3, 1686

3) Price, S., Leung, W., Owen, C., Puschendorf, R., Sergeant, C., Cunningham, A., Balloux, F., Garner, T. & Nichols, R. (2019). Effects of historic and projected climate change on the range and impacts of an emerging wildlife disease. Global Change Biology 25, 2648-2660

4) van Dorp, L., Acman, M., Richard, D., Shaw, L., Ford, C., Ormond, L., Owen, C., Pang, J., Tan, C., Boshier, F., Ortiz, A. and Balloux, F. (2020). Emergence of genomic diversity and recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 83, p.104351.

5) Jombart, T., Devillard, S. & Balloux, F. (2010) Discriminant analysis of principal components: a new method for the analysis of genetically structured populations. BMC Genetics 11, 94.

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BioinformaticsGeneticsMathematics / StatisticsSimulation / Modelling