Research Summary

How important is population genetic variation to wellbeing?

Around 4,000 tigers remain in the wild. Most tigers live in relatively small and sometimes isolated populations. Increasing human population size will continue to isolate tigers, leading to decreased genetic variation and inbreeding. How does low genetic variation and inbreeding influence the fate of individuals and populations? I wish to explore this difficult question in the context of wild Indian tiger populations. I will investigate homozygosity and inbreeding by sequencing whole genomes and subsequently develop methods to assess genetic variation, inbreeding, Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) diversity and gut micro-biota across all individuals in a few wild populations. I will then evaluate reproductive success consequences of these genotypes using paternity/maternity. I hope to understand whether an individuals’ genotype influences his/her fate, and guide efforts to conserve this species in the future.

Figure Legend: A tigress in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan.