Portrait of Dr Jarek Bryk Dr Jarek Bryk

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j.bryk@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472708


I studied biology and obtained MSc in molecular biology from the University of Warsaw, Poland, working on identification and functional aspects of mtDNA mutations in tumours. Following my interest in science education and communication, after the university I co–founded and directed Science Festival School at the International Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw. It was one of the first full–time bioscience popularisation organisations in Poland and it is still active today as the Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education.

Having decided to learn more and do research in evolutionary genetics, I started my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where I worked on metabolic and behavioural consequences of expression of putatively adaptive human genes in transgenic mice. I generated mice transgenic for genes thought to be important in human evolution, like GLUD2, a hominoid-specific gene encoding neurotransmitter-degrading enzyme glutamate dehydrogenase or a group of genes including ASPM and CENPJ that play a role in brain development and whose mutations cause microcephaly in humans. During my PhD I become more interested in functional and mechanistic basis of adaptive change, and followed this direction during a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, where I worked on identification of putatively adaptive genes using whole–genome approaches. I studied copy-number variants in natural populations of Mus musculus domesticus using custom made microarrays and microsatellite scans to identify CNVs under selective sweeps.

I then switched my focus back to teaching and education and became involved in secondary and undergraduate education in the National Centre for Biotechnology Education at the University of Reading, UK, where I undertook a EU–funded project to develop practical teaching resources in synthetic biology for undergraduates. I worked on development of DNA parts, plasmids and protocols to manipulate them, as well as organised workshops for undergraduates and A-level students in synthetic biology. I helped establish and mentored the first Reading team for the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition, where the student–driven project—construction and characterisation of solar–powered, cyanobacteria-based fuel cell—was awarded a bronze medal. During a subsequent Wellcome Trust’s Society Award to NCBE, I initiated development of similar experimental synthetic biology resources for A–level students before joining University of Huddersfield.

I am a member of the Evolutionary Genetics Research Group and since January 2017 I am also a Software Carpentry instructor.

Research and Scholarship

Understanding the genetic mechanisms by which organisms adapt to the environment is a fundamental topic in modern evolutionary ecology. By its very nature, adaptation is a historical phenomenon – a contemporary organism appears adapted to its environment because of the numerous generations of its ancestors, the traits and genetic composition of individuals in each generation shaped by multiple forces of evolution: selection, drift, migration and others. It is therefore challenging to recognize which characteristics of an organism are adaptive (i.e. increase the reproductive success and chances of survival) and which parts of a genome are responsible for the development of adaptive traits.

We can investigate the question of molecular basis of adaptations from two different but complementary perspectives. We can start with the trait, check for or infer its adaptive value and then try to elucidate the molecular mechanism involved in the development of that trait (“top–down approach”). Alternatively, we can start with the DNA sequence and identify regions under putative selective pressure for subsequent analyses of their role in the development of an adaptive trait (“bottom–up approach”).

For the top–down approach, we are investigating the genetic basis of coat–colouration in least weasels. North–eastern Poland is a territory where two subspecies of least weasels co–occur that differ greatly in their colours over the year. Mustela nivalis nivalis sheds its rusty brown fur for the winter and changes it into completely white, whereas Mustela nivalis vulgaris remains rusty brown throughout the year. There are indications that colour change may be adaptive, but the molecular mechanisms responsible for seasonal colour change are unknown. The two populations, however, make a well suited system for investigating both: the molecular basis and the adaptive consequences of seasonal coat colour change.

For the bottom–approach, we are investigating the relationships between populations of common wood and field rodents, Apodemus flavicolis and Apodemus sylvaticus. They are the most common mammals in the Palearctic and an attractive subject for evolutionary and molecular studies: they are likely to be under multitude of selective pressures in different habitats, they contribute to the spread of Lyme disease and tick–borne encephalitis and harbour extra (“B”) chromosomes. However, the genomic and genetic resources for their studies remain very limited. In our research, we aim at establishing phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships between Apodemus populations in Europe and develop genomic resources to identify and investigate signatures of positive selection in their DNA.

In both of the systems we study, we employ high-throughput sequencing and genotyping methods and bioinformatic analyses to identify genomic regions and patterns of genetic variation of interest. As we are ourselves beginners in such high-throughput comparative genomics' endeavours, we are benefitting enormously from collaboration with our colleagues in Europe, principally with (in alphabetical order) Dr Frank Chan in Germany, Dr Jose Melo-Ferreira in Portugal, Dr Johan Michaux in Belgium and Dr Karol Zub in Poland. To read more details about our work, please go to our website at bryklab.net/research.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Bryk, J (2017) ‘Evolution in action: pathogensScience in Schools (42), pp. 8-13. ISSN 1818-0353

Bryk, J (2017) ‘Evolution in action: the 67 000-generation experimentScience in Schools (41), pp. 24-29. ISSN 1818-0353


Nissen, J., Lykke, K., Bryk, J., Stridh, M., Zaganas, I., Skytt, D., Schousboe, A., Bak, L., Enard, W., P��bo, S. and Waagepetersen, H. (2016) ‘Expression of the human isoform of glutamate dehydrogenase, hGDH2, augments TCA cycle capacity and oxidative metabolism of glutamate during glucose deprivation in astrocytesGlia . ISSN 0894-1491

Li, Q., Guo, S., Jiang, X., Bryk, J., Naumann, R., Enard, W., Tomita, M., Sugimoto, M., Khaitovich, P. and P��bo, S. (2016) ‘Mice carrying a human GLUD2 gene recapitulate aspects of human transcriptome and metabolome developmentProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 113 (19), pp. 5358-5363. ISSN 0027-8424


Bryk, J. and Tautz, D. (2014) ‘Copy number variants and selective sweeps in natural populations of the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus)Frontiers in Genetics , 5. ISSN 1664-8021

Reeves, R., Bryk, J., Altrock, P., Denton, J. and Reed, F. (2014) ‘First Steps towards Underdominant Genetic Transformation of Insect PopulationsPLoS ONE , 9 (5), p. e97557. ISSN 1932-6203

Kaderali, L., Pozhitkov, A., Noble, P., Bryk, J. and Tautz, D. (2014) ‘A Revised Design for Microarray Experiments to Account for Experimental Noise and Uncertainty of Probe ResponsePLoS ONE , 9 (3), p. e91295. ISSN 1932-6203


Bryk, J., Somel, M., Lorenc, A. and Teschke, M. (2013) ‘Early gene expression divergence between allopatric populations of the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus)Ecology and Evolution , 3 (3), pp. 558-568. ISSN 20457758


Chan, Y., Jones, F., McConnell, E., Bryk, J., B�nger, L. and Tautz, D. (2012) ‘Parallel Selection Mapping Using Artificially Selected Mice Reveals Body Weight Control LociCurrent Biology , 22 (9), pp. 794-800. ISSN 09609822

Lehane, M., Reeves, R., Denton, J., Santucci, F., Bryk, J. and Reed, F. (2012) ‘Scientific Standards and the Regulation of Genetically Modified InsectsPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases , 6 (1), p. e1502. ISSN 1935-2735


Wolf, J. and Bryk, J. (2011) ‘General lack of global dosage compensation in ZZ/ZW systems? Broadening the perspective with RNA-seqBMC Genomics , 12 (1), p. 91. ISSN 1471-2164


Pulvers, J., Bryk, J., Fish, J., Wilsch-Brauninger, M., Arai, Y., Schreier, D., Naumann, R., Helppi, J., Habermann, B., Vogt, J., Nitsch, R., Toth, A., Enard, W., Paabo, S. and Huttner, W. (2010) ‘Mutations in mouse Aspm (abnormal spindle-like microcephaly associated) cause not only microcephaly but also major defects in the germlineProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 107 (38), pp. 16595-16600. ISSN 00278424


Stajich, J., Bryk, J., Hardouin, E., Pugach, I., Hughes, D., Strotmann, R., Stoneking, M. and Myles, S. (2008) ‘Positive Selection in East Asians for an EDAR Allele that Enhances NF-?B ActivationPLoS ONE , 3 (5), p. e2209. ISSN 1932-6203


Semczuk, A., Lorenc, A., Putowski, L., Futyma, K., Bryk, J., Miotla, P. and Bartnik, E. (2006) ‘Clinicoprognostical features of endometrial cancer patients with somatic mtDNA mutationsOncology Reports , 16 (5), pp. 1041-1045. ISSN 1021-335X

Semczuk, A., Lorenc, A., Putowski, L., Bryk, J., Marzec, B. and Bartnik, E. (2006) ‘Mitochondrial Mutations in Primary Human Endometrial Carcinomas: Poster Session 3International Journal of Gynecological Cancer , 16 (s3), pp. 764-814. ISSN 1048-891X


Heissig, F., Krause, J., Bryk, J., Khaitovich, P., Enard, W. and P��bo, S. (2005) ‘Functional analysis of human and chimpanzee promotersGenome Biology , 6 (7), p. R57. ISSN 14656906


Lorenc, A., Bryk, J. and Bartnik, E. (2004) ‘Mitochondrial DNA in TumorsToxicology Mechanisms and Methods , 14 (1-2), pp. 85-90. ISSN 1537-6516


Lorenc, A., Bryk, J., Golik, P., Kupryja?czyk, J., Ostrowski, J., Pronicki, M., Semczuk, A., Szo?kowska, M. and Bartnik, E. (2003) ‘Homoplasmic MELAS A3243G mtDNA mutation in a colon cancer sampleMitochondrion , 3 (2), pp. 119-124. ISSN 15677249

Research Degree Supervision