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Tim Sackton

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Museum of Comparative Zoology

Harvard University

26 Oxford Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

email: tsackton (at)






Download a pdf of my CV here.
See my Google scholar profile.


My introduction to evolutionary biology was as an undergraduate working in David Rand's lab at Brown University, where I got my Bachelor's of Science. My undergraduate thesis focused on coadaptation between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in Drosophila. From there, I moved to Cornell University, where I did my PhD with Andy Clark, working on quantitative genetics and comparative genomics of innate immunity in Drosophila. My PhD was supported by a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship and an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.

Research Interests

I am a biologist working at the interface of genomics, evolution, and computational biology to understand the impact of natural selection on genomes and characterize the genomic basis of adaptive divergence. Currently, my work focuses on using comparative genomic and population genetic approaches to understand patterns of convergence gain and loss of traits, specifically flightlessness in Palaeognath birds. I also continue to work on sex chromosome evolution, focusing on understanding both the evolutionary forces that drive unique patterns of evolution on these chromosomes across insects, and also the phenotypic consequences of variation linked to the degenerated Y chromosome in Drosophila. Lastly, I work on immune system evolution in insects, in order to understand how the extreme selective pressures of host-pathogen conflict shape interacting networks of genes at a variety of levels: sequence evolution, gene gains and losses, and regulatory change. My interests are broad, but the common underlying theme is a desire to know how natural selection drives organismal and phenotypic diversity at a variety of scales.


Selected publications

Sackton, T. B., Corbett-Detig, R. B., Nagaraju, J., Vaishna, R. L., Arunkumar, K. P., Hartl, D. L. (2014). Positive selection drives faster-Z evolution in silkmoths. Evolution. [epub before print] doi: 10.1111/evo.12449

Sackton, T. B., Werren, J. H., Clark, A. G. (2013). Characterizing the infection-induced transcriptome of Nasonia vitripennis reveals a preponderance of taxonomically-restricted immune genes. PloS ONE. 8(12): e83984. PMID: 24386321.

Sackton T. B. and Hartl D. L. (2013). Meta-analysis reveals that genes regulated by the Y chromosome in Drosophila melanogaster are preferentially localized to repressive chromatin. Genome Biol Evol. 5(1):255-66. PMID: 23315381.

Whiteman, N. K., Gloss, A. D.*, Sackton, T. B.*, Groen, S. C., Humphrey, P. T., Lapoint, R. T., Sønderby, I. E., Halkier, B. A., Kocks, C., Ausubel, F. M., Pierce, N. E. (2012). Genes involved in the evolution of herbivory by a leaf-mining, Drosophilid Fly. Genome Biol Evol. 4:788-804. PMID: 22813779.

Sackton, T. B., Montenegro, H., Hartl, D. L., Lemos, B. (2011). Disruption of testis-specific gene expression and male reproductive phenotypes in heterospecific Y chromosome introgressions in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 108(41):17046-51. PMID: 21969588.

Sackton, T. B., Lazzaro, B. P., Clark, A. G. (2010). Association of genotype and gene expression in the Drosophila melanogaster immune response. PLoS Genet. 6(1): e1000797. PMID: 20066029.

Sackton, T. B.* , Kulathinal, R. J.*, Bergman, C. M., Quinlan, A. R., Dopman, E. B., Carneiro, M., Marth, G. T., Hartl, D. L., Clark, A. G. (2009). Population genomic inferences from sparse high-throughput sequencing of two populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Genome Biol Evol. 1:449-465. PMID: 20333214.

Sackton, T. B. and Clark, A. G. (2009) Comparative profiling of the transcriptional response to bacterial infection in two species of Drosophila by short-read cDNA sequencing. BMC Genomics. 10:259. PMID: 19500410.

Larracuente, A. M.*, Sackton, T. B.*, Greenberg, A. J., Wong, A., Singh, N. D., Sturgill, D., Zhang, Y., Oliver, B., Clark, A. G. (2008) Evolution of protein coding genes in Drosophila. Trends Genet. 24(3):114-23. PMID: 18249460.

Drosophila 12 Genomes Consortium: Clark, A. G., Eisen, M. B., Smith, D. R., Bergman, C. M., Oliver, B., Markow, T. A., Kaufman, T. C., Kellis, M., Gelbart, W., Iyer, V. N., Pollard, D. A., Sackton, T. B., Larracuente, A. M., Singh, N. D., et al. (>100 additional coauthors). (2007) Evolution of genes and genomes on the Drosophila phylogeny. Nature. 450(7167):203-18. PMID: 17994087.

Sackton, T. B., Lazzaro B. P., Schlenke, T. A., Evans, J. D., Hultmark, D., Clark, A. G. (2007) The evolution of the innate immune system in Drosophila. Nat Genet. 39(12):1461-8. PMID: 17987029.

Sackton, T. B., Haney, R. A., Rand, D. M. (2003) Cytonuclear coadaptation in Drosophila: disruption of cytochrome c oxidase activity in backcross genotypes. Evolution 57(10): 2315-2325. PMID: 14628919.

(*equal contribution)


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