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  • UC Riverside
  • College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Leonard Nunney


Professor of Biology
Office: 3306 Spieth Hall
Phone (951) 827-5011


Ph.D., University of Nottingham, England 1977

My research is in population and evolutionary genetics, with an emphasis on the application of basic theory to practical problems.   Projects include:

  • Conservation genetics.   Current areas of emphasis: effective population size, inbreeding, adaptation in a changing environment, and the role of wildlife linkages in long-term conservation strategies.
  • Evolutionary genomics of the plant pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.   The goal of this project is to successfully apply the methods of evolutionary genomics to understand and ultimately control this bacterium that causes serious disease in a wide range of agricultural crops, including Pierce's disease of grapevine.
  • The evolution of cancer suppression.  This project arose from my interest in how selection acts at different levels of organization.  In the case of cancer there is a dramatic conflict between individual cells and an individual organism, and in this study we use an evolutionary approach to understand how different organisms minimize the occurrence of cancer.

I participate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology (EEOB) graduate program and in the Genetics Interdepartmental graduate program.  I am a member of the Center for Conservation Biology, which promotes conservation research.  I am an external faculty member of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at UCSF, and participate in the Intercampus Research Program on Experimental Evolution (UCIRPEE)

Recent Publications ...

Conservation genetics

  • Enders, L.S. and L. Nunney. 2012. Seasonal Stress Drives Predictable Changes in Inbreeding Depression in Field-Tested Captive Populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Proc Roy Soc. B 279: 3756-3764
  • Hare, M., L. Nunney, M. Schwartz, D. Ruzzante, M. Burford, R. Waples, K. Ruegg, and F. Palstra. 2011. Understanding and Estimating Effective Population Size for Practical Application in Marine Species Management. Cons. Biol. 25: 438-449.
  • Enders, L. S. and L. Nunney. 2010 Sex-specific effects of inbreeding in wild-caught Drosophila melanogaster under benign and stressful conditions. J. Evol. Biol. 23: 2309-2323

Evolutionary genomics

  • Nunney, L., D. Vickerman, R. E. Bromley, S. Russell, J. Hartman, L. D. Morano, and R. Stouthamer. 2013. Recent radiation and host plant specialization in Xylella fastidiosa native to the United States. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 79: 2189-2200.
  • Nunney, L., X. Yuan, R. E. Bromley, and R. Stouthamer. 2012. Detecting genetic introgression: high levels of inter-subspecific recombination found in Xylella fastidiosa in Brazil. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78: 4702-4714.
  • Nunney, L., S. Elfekih and R. Stouthamer. 2012. The importance of multilocus sequence typing: cautionary tales from the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. Phytopath. 102: 456-460.
  • Nunney, L. , X. Yuan, R. Bromley, J. Hartung, M. Montero-Astua, L. Moreira, B. Ortiz, R. Stouthamer. 2010 Population genomic analysis of a bacterial plant pathogen: novel insight into the origins of Pierce`s disease of grapevine in the U.S. PLoS ONE 5: e15488 (9pp).

Cancer and levels of selection

  • Nunney, L. 2013. The real war on cancer: the evolutionary dynamics of cancer suppression. Evol. Applic. 6: 11-19.
  • Stouthamer, R., J. E. Russell, F. Vavre, L. Nunney. 2010 Intragenomic conflict in populations infected by Parthenogenesis Inducing Wolbachia ends with irreversible loss of sexual reproduction. BMC Evol. Biol. 10: 229 (12pp).

    Recent Teaching....

    • Biology 108, Introductory Population Genetics
    • Biology 110, Biology of Human Problems
    • Biology 119, Introduction to Genomics and Bioinformatics
    • Biology 214, Population Genetics