Melissa Toups

Dr Melissa Toups

  • mtoups at bournemouth dot ac dot uk
  • Senior Lecturer in Computational Genomics
  • CH
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I am an evolutionary biologist using empirical and computational tools to study the evolution of sex chromosomes. Specifically, I am interested in why some sex chromosomes turnover more frequently than others, what evolutionary forces drive the suppression of recombination, and understanding the role of intraspecific polymorphism in the evolution of new sex chromosomes. I’ve explored these questions in a variety of taxa, including mosquitoes, birds, butterflies, frogs, plants, shrimp, and flies.

For more details of my research, please visit my website:

Journal Articles

  • Lasne, C., Elkrewi, M., Toups, M.A., Layana, L., Macon, A. and Vicoso, B., 2023. The Scorpionfly (Panorpa cognata) Genome Highlights Conserved and Derived Features of the Peculiar Dipteran X Chromosome. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 40 (12).
  • Toups, M.A. and Vicoso, B., 2023. The X chromosome of insects likely predates the origin of class Insecta. Evolution; international journal of organic evolution, 77 (11), 2504-2511.
  • Elkrewi, M., Toups, M.A. et al., 2022. ZW sex-chromosome evolution and contagious parthenogenesis in Artemia brine shrimp. Genetics, 222 (2).
  • Toups, M.A., Vicoso, B. and Pannell, J.R., 2022. Dioecy and chromosomal sex determination are maintained through allopolyploid speciation in the plant genus Mercurialis. PLoS Genetics, 18 (7).
  • Gammerdinger, W.J., Toups, M.A. and Vicoso, B., 2020. Disagreement in FST estimators: A case study from sex chromosomes. Mol Ecol Resour, 20 (6), 1517-1525.
  • Cossard, G.G., Toups, M.A. and Pannell, J.R., 2019. Sexual dimorphism and rapid turnover in gene expression in pre-reproductive seedlings of a dioecious herb. Ann Bot, 123 (7), 1119-1131.
  • Veltsos, P., Toups, M.A. et al., 2019. Early sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious plant mercurialis annua. Genetics, 212 (3), 815-835.
  • Huylmans, A.K., Toups, M.A., Macon, A., Gammerdinger, W.J. and Vicoso, B., 2019. Sex-Biased Gene Expression and Dosage Compensation on the Artemia franciscana Z-Chromosome. Genome Biol Evol, 11 (4), 1033-1044.
  • Toups, M.A., Rodrigues, N., Perrin, N. and Kirkpatrick, M., 2019. A reciprocal translocation radically reshapes sex-linked inheritance in the common frog. Molecular Ecology, 28 (8), 1877-1889.
  • Ma, W.-J., Veltsos, P., Toups, M.A., Rodrigues, N., Sermier, R., Jeffries, D.L. and Perrin, N., 2018. Tissue Specificity and Dynamics of Sex-Biased Gene Expression in a Common Frog Population with Differentiated, Yet Homomorphic, Sex Chromosomes. Genes (Basel), 9 (6).
  • Toups, M., Veltsos, P. and Pannell, J.R., 2015. Plant sex chromosomes: lost genes with little compensation. Curr Biol, 25 (10), R427-R430.
  • Ascunce, M.S., Toups, M.A., Kassu, G., Fane, J., Scholl, K. and Reed, D.L., 2013. Nuclear genetic diversity in human lice (Pediculus humanus) reveals continental differences and high inbreeding among worldwide populations. PLoS One, 8 (2), e57619.
  • Toups, M.A., Kitchen, A., Light, J.E. and Reed, D.L., 2011. Origin of clothing lice indicates early clothing use by anatomically modern humans in Africa. Mol Biol Evol, 28 (1), 29-32.
  • Toups, M.A., Pease, J.B. and Hahn, M.W., 2011. No Excess Gene Movement Is Detected off the Avian or Lepidopteran Z Chromosome. GENOME BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 3, 1463-1472.
  • Toups, M.A. and Hahn, M.W., 2010. Retrogenes Reveal the Direction of Sex-Chromosome Evolution in Mosquitoes. GENETICS, 186 (2), 763-766.
  • Kraemer, S.A., Toups, M.A. and Velicer, G.J., 2010. Natural variation in developmental life-history traits of the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. FEMS Microbiol Ecol, 73 (2), 226-233.
  • Heins, D.C., Baker, J.A., Toups, M.A. and Birden, E.L., 2010. Evolutionary significance of fecundity reduction in threespine stickleback infected by the diphyllobothriidean cestode Schistocephalus solidus. BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY, 100 (4), 835-846.
  • Light, J.E., Toups, M.A. and Reed, D.L., 2008. What's in a name: the taxonomic status of human head and body lice. Mol Phylogenet Evol, 47 (3), 1203-1216.

Profile of Teaching PG

  • Conservation Genetics (Guest Lecturer)

Profile of Teaching UG

  • Mathematics in Science (Unit Leader)
  • Advanced Topics in Genetics (Unit Leader)
  • Molecular Ecology (Contributor)
  • Animal Biology (Guest Lecturer)


  • Neo-sex chromosomes in hawker dragonflies – adaptation or evolutionary noise? (Royal Society, 31 Mar 2023). Awarded


  • PhD in Biology (Indiana University, 2014)
  • MS in Zoology (University of Florida, 2008)
  • BS in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (Tulane University, 2004)


  • Genetics Society (UK), Member (2023-),
  • European Society of Evolutionary Biology, Member (2014-),
  • Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Member (2008-),
  • Society for the Study of Evolution, Member (2007-),