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Dean Castillo

Assistant Professor


Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 462A
Phone: 801-581-7882
Email: dean.castillo@utah.edu
Castillo Lab: https://castillolab.github.io/

Research Statement


For sexually reproducing organisms, a large part of their fitness depends on how well they compete for and obtain mating opportunities. This “sexual selection” was recognized as a strong driver of evolution by Darwin, and has since been invoked to describe broad scale patterns of biodiversity. Species specific behaviors and preferences accumulate over time and drive the evolution of new species from a single common ancestor, in a process called speciation. How new species are formed remains a fundamental question in biology. The Castillo Lab aims to answer fundamental questions about how natural and sexual selection shape mating interactions and behaviors, species interactions, and ultimately speciation. We use an integrative approach combining population and molecular genetics with behavioral experiments to understand the genetic basis of sexual behaviors and reproductive isolation. We also incorporate comparative genomics of reproductive isolation to analyze repeated evolution of reproductive isolation across the tree of life. By studying the mechanistic and genetic links between sexual selection and reproductive isolation we can determine the influence of these forces on generating biodiversity.

Research Interests


General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Genetics of speciation
  • Evolution of mate choice and sperm competition

Selected Publications


  • DM Castillo. 2017 Factors contributing to the accumulation of reproductive isolation: A mixed model approach. Ecology and Evolution 7:5808–5820
  • DM Castillo, DA Barbash. 2017 Moving Speciation Genetics Forward: Modern Techniques Build on Foundational Studies in Drosophila. Genetics 207 (3), 825-842
  • DM Castillo and LF Delph. 2016. Male–female genotype interactions maintain variation in traits important for sexual interactions and reproductive isolation. Evolution 70:1667-1673.
  • DM Castillo and LC Moyle. 2014. Intraspecific sperm competition genes enforce post-mating species barriers in Drosophila. Proc. R. Soc. B 281:20142050.