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Jos Kafer
Chargé de recherche - CNRS
courriel :
tél : 04 72 44 79 32
"Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive"
UCB Lyon 1  - Bât. Grégor Mendel
43 bd du 11 novembre 1918
69622 VILLEURBANNE cedex
Bâtiment : Mendel 1er étage Bureau : 153

I’m a member of the "Sex and evolution" team.

I’m working on the evolution of separate sexes in the flowering plants. This breeding system, called dioecy, is very familiar to us, because it is very common in animals (where it is often called "gonochorism").

The most important similarity between dioecy (plants) and gonochorism (animals) is sex chromosome evolution, which typically leads to Y degeneration, as documented in our favorite model species Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae).

The differences are more numerous, perhaps :

  • dioecy is quite rare in flowering plants (about 5 - 6% of all species), but gonochorism is the major breeding system in animals.
  • most dioecious plants recently evolved from hermaphrodite ancestors, while this happened a long time ago in animals
  • a lot of intermediate breeding systems are observed in plants (gynodioecy, monoecy...), but those are rare in animals

What are the causes of these differences ?
For a long time, people thought dioecy was an evolutionary dead end for plants, but we’ve recently shown that this is not the case. I’m studying the angiosperm phylogeny and in particular our favorite genus Silene to hope to find better explanations.

Short CV

I studied biology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and completed the master curriculum at the Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics group at Utrecht University in 2005.

For my PhD, I went to the Laboratoire de Spectrométrie Physique (now Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique) in Grenoble, to study how physical properties of cells determine tissue shapes and morphogenesis, with François Graner.

After that, I started working as a postdoc here at the Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, first on dioecy in Silene, and gradually extending to other plants.

I also studied contemporary philosophy at the Université Jean Moulin — Lyon III (2013-2015).