Paul Saunders

Postdoctoral Researcher

Some of the most informative new observation on vertebrate sex and sex chromosomes have come from animals that are far from being models” Jennifer A. Marshall Graves, 2008.


I’m a French evolutionary biologist interested in the evolution of sex determination and sex chromosomes. I have a strong interest in species/taxa exhibiting out of the ordinary sex determining systems and/or unusual rates of changes in their sex determining mechanisms.

Over the last few years, my work has focused on the study of the causes and consequences of the evolution of the weird sex determination system of the African pygmy mouse Mus minutoides (U. of Montpellier, FR). I’ve also done some theoretical work to shed light on the forces involved in sex chromosome turnover, and especially the high turnover rates observed in taxa like Ranidae frogs (U. of Lausanne, CH).

My work at UTAS (in collaboration with Chris Burridge, Erik Wapstra, Tariq Ezaz from U. of Canberra, and Oleg Simakov from U. of Vienna, AUT) will focus on the evolutionary genomics of sex chromosomes in the spotted snow skink Carinascincus ocellatus, which has a mixed sex determination system (sex chromosomes + temperature override) and exhibits between-population variation in sex determination.

Publications: Google Scholar

Gil-Fernández A, Saunders PA, Martín-Ruiz M, Ribagorda M, López-Jiménez P, Jeffries DL, Teresa Parra M, Viera A, Rufas JS, Perrin N, Veyrunes F, Page J (2020) Meiosis reveals the early steps in the evolution of a neo-XY sex chromosome pair in the African pygmy mouse Mus minutoides. PLoS genetics. 16: e1008959.

Saunders PA, Neuenschwander S, Perrin N (2019) Impact of deleterious mutations, sexually antagonistic selection, and mode of recombination suppression on transitions between male and female heterogamety. Heredity 123: 419-428.

Dufresnes C, Mazepa G, Rodrigues N, Brelsford A, Litvinchuk SN, Sermier R, Lavanchy G, Betto-Colliard C, Blaser O, Borzée A, Cavoto E, Fabre G, Ghali K, Grossen C, Horn A, Leuenberger A, Phillips BC, Saunders PA, Savary R, Maddalena T, Stöck M, Dubey S, Canestrelli D, Jeffries DL (2018) Genomic evidence for cryptic speciation in tree frogs from the Apennine Peninsula, with description of Hyla perrini sp. Nov.. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6: 144.

Saunders PA, Neuenschwander S, Perrin N (2018) Sex chromosome turnovers and genetic drift: a simulation study. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 31:1413-1419.

Dufresnes C, Mazepa G, Rodrigues N, Brelsford A, Sermier R, Lavanchy G, Betto-Colliard C, Blaser, O, Cavoto E, Fabre G, Ghali K, Grossen C, Horn A, Leuenberger J, Philips BC, Saunders PA, Savary R, Dubey S, Jeffries DL, Litvinchuk SN, Borzée A, Maddalena T, Stock, M, Canestrelli D (2018) Formal description of the new tree frog species inhabiting northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles. 97:5-11.

Saunders PA, Franco T, Sottas C, Maurice T, Ganem G, Veyrunes F (2016) Masculinised behaviour of XY females in a mammal with naturally occurring sex reversal. Scientific Reports. 6 :1-9.

Saunders PA, Perez J, Rahmoun M, Ronce O, Crochet PA, Veyrunes F (2014) XY females do better than the XX in the African Pygmy Mouse, Mus minutoides. Evolution. 68:2119-2127.

Rahmoun M, Perez J, Saunders PA, Boizet-Bonhoure B, Wilhelm D, Poulat F, Veyrunes F (2014). Anatomical and molecular analyses of XY ovaries from the African pygmy mouse, Mus minutoides. Sexual Development. 8:356-363.