Justin Blumenstiel

Justin Blumenstiel
  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Dr. Justin Blumenstiel's research is focused on understanding how both genetic and epigenetic systems evolve.


Meiosis and sexual reproduction are prevalent across the tree of life, but they can be exploited by genetic parasites in ways that harm the host. I am particularly interested in understanding how this genetic conflict shapes genetic and epigenetic systems. In the lab we study genome evolution, transposable elements, meiosis, RNA silencing, epigenetics, population genetics and the evolution of systems that maintain genome integrity. Some of the questions I am looking to answer: How does epigenetic inheritance of small RNA influence gene expression in natural populations? How do RNA silencing systems evolve in light of off-target effects on gene expression? How do genome stability mechanisms evolve in the face of a changing landscape of DNA damage ? How do mechanisms of meiotic recombination and DNA damage response co-evolve? To answer these questions, I work with different species within the Drosophila genus, including Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila virilis. The lab uses a wide variety of approaches including cytogenetics, bioinformatics, molecular genetics and population genetics. Overall, I hope to integrate the experimental approach within a broader theoretical framework.

Selected Publications