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Wayne Potts


Ph.D. University of Washington

Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 580A
Phone: 801-585-9677; 801-585-9678
Potts Lab:

Research Statement

Various histocompatibility genes confer susceptibility to almost all infectious and autoimmune diseases in mammals (and other vertebrates). Why hasn't evolution by natural selection eliminated these bad genes? We are conducting experiments designed to elucidate which evolutionary processes are responsible for maintaining the unprecedented genetic diversity of histocompatibility (MHC) genes. To address these questions we utilize interdisciplinary approaches involving immunology, host-parasite coevolution, genetics, behavior, sexual selection and kin selection. Our unique approach includes examining components of fitness of rodents in seminatural conditions, a methodology that has proven to be an extremely sensitive assay for exploring phenotypes that are largely undetectable by other methods. The sensitive nature of our fitness assays has proven highly successful in demonstrating adverse effects on mammalian health and performance from suspected toxins, mutations and other treatments.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Host-parasite coevolution
  • Immunogenetic
  • Disease ecology
  • Social behavior

Selected Publications

  • 2017 Ruff, JS., Saffarini, R.B., Ramoz, L.L., Morrison, L.C., Baker, S., Laverty, S.M., Tvrdik, P., Capecchi, M.R. & Potts, W.K. Mouse fitness measures reveal incomplete functional redundancy of Hox paralogous group 1 proteins PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174975. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174975
  • 2017 Ruff, J.S., Cornwall, D.H., Morrison,L.C.,Cauceglia, J.W., Nelson, A.C., Gaukler, S.M., Meagher, S., Carroll, L.S. & Potts, W.K. Sexual selection constrains the body mass of male but not female mice. Ecol Evol. 2017; 00:1�5. doi:10.1002/ece3.2753.
  • 2016 Mowry A.V., Kavazis A.N., Sirman A.E., Potts W.K., and Hood WR Reproduction Does Not Adversely Affect Liver Mitochondrial Respiratory Function but Results in Lipid Peroxidation and Increased Antioxidants in House Mice. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160883. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160883
  • 2016 Gaukler, S.M, Ruff, J.S. & Potts, W.K. Paroxetine exposure skews litter sex ratios in mice suggesting a Trivers-Willard process. Behav Ecol. 27: 1113-1121
  • 2016 Gaukler, S.M, Ruff, J.S., Galland, T., Underwood T.K., Kandaris, K.A., Liu, N.M., Morrison, L.C., Veranth, J.M. & Potts, W.K., Quantification of cerivastatin toxicity supports Organismal Performance Assays as an effective tool during pharmaceutical safety assessment. Evol Appl. 9: 685-695.
  • 2016 Gaukler, S.M, Ruff, J.S. & Potts, W.K., Paroxetine exposure skews litter sex ratios in mice suggesting a Trivers-Willard process. Behav Ecol. Online ahead of print view online version

Courses Taught

  • Biol 3125: Molecular Tools for Evol.