C. William Birky

Professor Emeritus

Positions and Education: 

  • Professor Emeritus, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Arizona, 2007-present
  • Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Arizona, 1997-2007
  • Chairman of the Graduate Interdepartmental Program in Genetics, The University of Arizona, 1997 - 2003
  • Professor, Genetics (now Molecular Genetics), The Ohio State University, 1976 - 1997
  • Member of Interdepartmental Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Program, The Ohio State University, 1970 - 1986
  • Associate Professor, Genetics, The Ohio State University, 1970 - 1976
  • Instructor, Assistant Professor, Zoology, and member of interdepartmental Genetics Program, University of California at Berkeley, 1964 - 1970
  • Ph.D., Embryology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Indiana University, 1963
  • B.A., Zoology, Indiana University, 1959

Honors and Awards: 

  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 1997)
  • President, American Genetic Association, 1992
  • Finalist, Outstanding Teaching Award of the Arts & Sciences Student Council, The Ohio State University, 1981, 1982
  • Hargitt Fellowship in Cell Biology, Duke University, 1977 - 78
  • Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, The Ohio State University, 1972
  • National Institutes of Health Senior Research Fellowships, 1969 - 1970, 1987 - 1988, 1996

Research Interests: 

I study the concept of species, how to use molecular data to assign individuals to species, and the evolutionary consequences of asexual vs. sexual reproduction. In the lab we are studying how the asexual bdelloid rotifers use anhydrobiosis to colonize the world and avoid extinction due to accumulated mutations.

Selected Publications: 

PubMed list of publications for Bill Birky 

  1. Birky, C. William, Jr., 1999. An even broader perspective on the evolution of sex. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 12:1013-1016.
  2. Birky, C. William, Jr. 2001. The inheritance of genes in mitochondria and chloroplasts: Laws, mechanisms, and models. Annual Reviews of Genetics 35:125-148.
  3. Barraclough, Timothy G., C. William Birky, Jr., and Austin Burt, 2003 Diversification in sexual and asexual organisms. Evolution 57:2166-2172.
  4. Birky, C. William, Jr., Cynthia Wolf, Heather Maughan, Linnea Herbertson, Elena Henry (2005) Speciation and selection without sex. Hydrobiologi 546:29-45.
  5. Birky, C. William, Jr. (2009) Sex and Evolution in Eukaryotes. In: Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, EoLSS Publishers, Oxford, UK, [http://www.eolss.net].
  6. Birky, C. William, Jr., Timothy G. Barraclough (2009) Asexual Speciation. pp. 201-216. In:  Lost Sex. The Evolutionary Biology of Parthenogenesis. Isa Schön, Koen Martens,  Peter Van Dijk (eds.) Springer.
  7. Birky, C. William, Jr. (2010) Positively negative evidence for asexuality. Journal of Heredity101(supp1):S42-S45.
  8. Birky, C. William, Jr., Joshua Adams, Marlea Gemmel, Julia Perry (2010) Using population genetic theory and DNA sequences for species detection and identification in asexualorganisms PLoS One 5:e10609
  9. Birky, C. William, Jr., Claudia Ricci, Giulio Melone, Diego Fontaneto (2011) Integrating DNA and traditional taxonomy to describe diversity in poorly studied microscopic animals: new species of the genus Abrochtha Bryce, 1910 (Rotifera: Bdelloidea: Philodinavidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 161:723-734 (DOI:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00674.x).
  10. Schön,  Isa,  Ricardo L. Pinto, Stuart Halse, Alison J. Smith, Koen Martens & C. William Birky, Jr. (2012) Cryptic species in putative ancient asexual darwinulids (Crustacea, Ostracoda). PLoS One 7(7): e39844.
  11. Birky, C. William, Jr. (2012) Species detection and identification in sexual organisms using population genetic theory and DNA sequences. PLoS One (in press).

Representative Older Publications

  1. Birky, C. William, Jr., and J. J. Gilbert, 1971 Parthenogenesis in rotifers: the control of sexual and asexual reproduction. Am. Zoologist 11:245-266.
  2. Birky, C. William, Jr. 1973 On the origin of mitochondrial mutants: Evidence for intracellular selection of mitochondria in the origin of antibiotic-resistant cells in yeast. Genetics 74:421-432.
  3. Birky, C. William, Jr., and Russell V. Skavaril, 1976 Maintenance of genetic homogeneity in systems with multiple genomes. Genet. Res. 27:249-265.
  4. Backer, James S. and C. William Birky, Jr., 1985 The origin of mutant cells: Mechanisms by which Saccharomyces cerevisiae produces cells homoplasmic for new mitochondrial mutants. Curr. Genet. 9:627-640.
  5. Banks, Jo Ann, and C. William Birky, Jr., 1985 Chloroplast DNA diversity is low in a wild plant, Lupinus texensis. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 82:6950-6954.
  6. Birky, C. William, Jr., and J. Bruce Walsh, 1988 Effects of linkage on rates of molecular evolution. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 85:6414-6418.
  7. Birky, C. William, Jr., Paul Fuerst and Takeo Maruyama, 1989 Organelle gene diversity under migration, mutation, and drift: Equilibrium expectations, approach to equilibrium, effects of heteroplasmic cells, and comparison to nuclear genes. Genetics 121:613-627.
  8. Birky, C. W., Jr., 1991 Evolution and population genetics of organelle genes: Mechanisms and models. In: Evolution at the Molecular Level, Edited by R. K. Selander, A. G. Clark, T. S. Whittam. Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass.
  9. Birky, C. William, Jr., 1994 Relaxed and stringent genomes: Why cytoplasmic genes don't obey Mendel's laws. J. Hered. 85:355-365.
  10. Birky, C. William, Jr., 1995 Uniparental inheritance of mitochondria and chloroplast genes: mechanisms and evolution. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 92:11331-11338.
  11. Rumpf, R., Vernon, D., Schreiber, D., and C. William Birky, Jr. 1996. Evolutionary consequences of the loss of photosynthesis in Chlamydomonadaceae: Phylogenetic analysis of Rrn 18 (18S rDNA) in 13 Polytoma strains (Chlorophyta). J. Phycol. 32:119-126.
  12. Vernon, Dawne, Robin Gutell, Jaime Cannone, Robert Rumpf, and C. William Birky, Jr., 2001. Accelerated evolution of functional plastid rRNA and elongation factor genes due to reduced protein synthetic load after the loss of photosynthesis in the chlorophyte alga Polytoma.. Mol. Biol. Evol. 18:1810-1822.