Welcome to the Dybdahl Lab!

Why do most organisms undergo sexual reproduction? Or more specifically, what factors maintain sexual reproduction when strains within a species that reproduce asexually could invade and displace sexuals? Our research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of sexual and asexual modes of reproduction.  We have studied the role of coevolution and parasite infection in the maintenance of sex. We have also studied asexual populations to understand how they might spread and displace sexual populations.

Specific research interests in our group include coevolving host-parasite interactions, plasticity in adaptation of both life-history and morphological traits, and the ecology of invasive species. We use molecular genetic tools, laboratory experiments, and studies of natural populations to address our main questions.

Our most recent projects focus on mechanisms that contribute to the success of asexual clonal populations, and adaptation and plasticity in variable environments.  We are addressing these questions by studying plasticity when multiple environmental variables change simultaneously, transgenerational plasticity, and epigenetic variation.

The freshwater snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, is a useful model to address these questions; in fact, this snail has posed these and many other questions! Some females of this species reproduce sexually, mating with males, while others reproduce clones of themselves without mating. Surprisingly, the asexual females have been very successful in invading and spreading in new environments globally. Recently, our research has focused on these populations.

Click the tabs above to find out more of what we do, where we have published and what to do if you are interested in our work!

If you are interested in our lab or want to learn more about what we do, please email dybdahl[at]wsu.edu.

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Join the Lab!

Are you interested in joining us?

Email Dr. Mark Dybdahl at dybdahl[at]wsu.edu and tell him why you are interested in the lab! Don’t forget to attach your resume or your CV!

We would love to have dedicated individuals that are interested in getting involved in undergraduate research and possibly even creating their own projects! You will learn valuable model organism care, how to discuss and read scientific papers, and how to utilize specialized microscopes for identifying offspring and measuring phenotypic differences in shell shape. Bioinformatics and phenotypic plasticity studies can also be a part of your undergraduate research experience in this laboratory if you so choose.


One of our Master’s Students, Abby Hudak, counting snail offspring for her thesis while one of our awesome undergraduate researchers, Daniel Ng, cleans snail cups and feeds!

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