Alexey S. Kondrashov (Russian: Алексей Симонович Кондрашов) (born April 11, 1957 in Moscow) is a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. He has worked on a variety of subjects in evolutionary genetics. He is best known for the deterministic mutation hypothesis explaining the maintenance of sexual reproduction, his work on sympatric speciation, and his work on evaluating mutation rates.
Originally from the Soviet Union, A.S. Kondrashov has been working in the United States since the early 1990s. His work currently focuses on measuring rate of spontaneous mutation in Drosophila. Also, he studies selection at the sequence level and protein evolution. He founded the laboratory of evolutionary genomics in the College of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Early years of Life and Education
Alexey Kondrashov was born on April 11, 1957 in Moscow. His father is the famous Soviet and Russian biophysicist, Simon Shnoll. In the 1960s his family moved to Pushchino where he attended Middle School #1 (1966-1970). After some time, he transferred to the Pushchino’s Middle School #2 (1970-1973). From 1973 to 1978 Kondrashov studied in the College of Genetics of Biology Department of the Moscow State University-Lomonosov. In 1984, he received his Ph.D. degree in Biology form The Moscow State University. In 1990, Kondrashov became an Associate Visiting Scientist in the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He became an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Systematics at Cornell University in 1993, and Associate Professor in 1996. As Kondrashov says, the most beneficial development in his career was, that after being trained as a zoologist, in 1978 he joined a computing center, where he was the only one without a formal education in mathematics. His mentor, Prof. Molchanov helped him to learn all the basic bifurcations possible in dynamical systems, which is the background of Kondrashov’s approach to any scientific problem as he said in his interview in 2006.
One of the most famous works of Alexey Kondrashov is called the Kondrashov Hypothesis or the deterministic mutation hypothesis .This hypothesis explains the benefits of sexual reproduction. Kondrashov argues that because of the slightly deleterious effect of mutations the population will tend to be composed of individuals with a small number of mutations. Because of the recombination effect of the sex on the genotypes the individuals with fewer and more deleterious mutations will be created. Since there is a major selective disadvantage to individuals with more mutations, these individuals die out. Also, Alexey Kondrashov is famous for his works in molecular biology, where he focused on the evolution of different proteins. Kondrashov states that amino acid composition of proteins varies between taxa, so it can evolve. For example, the organism that has more G+C base pairs in the genome will have more amino acids encoded by G+C rich codons. To support this hypothesis Kondrahovet. al. compared sets of orthologous proteins from 15 taxa, which represent three domains of life. As a result, Ser, His, Met, Phe and Cysaccure in 14 taxa. Gly, Glu, Ala, Pro was pretty much lost. The amino acids with reducing frequencies was probably among the first incorporated into the genetic codes. Also, all amino acids except Ser, which have an increase in frequency, were probably recruited late. This process also continues to go today.
Moscow State University gave him a “Mega Grant” for comparing genomes of close related species and genotypes of closely related individuals. The money from “Mega Grant” was spent on the development of the laboratory of Evolutionary Genomics in the Moscow State University. Especially important acquisitions are the new supercomputer for Bioinformatics analysis and the Illumina sequencing machine. Also, some money was spent on the development of White Sea Biological station, where the new equipment and the research vessel were bought. In December 2012, this grant was extended for two more years. However, the future extension of “Mega Grant” is questionable according to Kondrashov, due to the high reliability on private sponsors' money and the absence of direct financial benefit from phylogenetics studies. In 2011, he participated in a meeting of the science society with the President of the Russian Federation.
On August 22, 2012, Kondrashov wrote an article in “Nature,” describing a link between older fathers and a rise in disorders such as autism. The paper attracted a lot of public attention and Kondrashov was interviewed by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist and several television networks. The research investigated the number of spontaneous mutations in humans. It showed that a 40-year-old father transmits nearly two and a half times more mutations to his offspring than a 20-year-old father. As the example, a 20 year old father can transmit nearly 25 random mutations to the offspring. The number of transmitted mutations is rising on two mutations for every more year. So, a 40 year old father can transmit nearly 65 mutations to the offspring. The exact reason for it is not quite well understood, but the collecting of sperm of young men and freezing it for the future can be a clever choice. The brain is usually more effected by these mutations, due the fact that more genes are expressed in the brain than in any other organ. Also, Kondrashov is a scientist with broad interests and he is known not only for his genomics and evolution works.
Now, Alexey Kondrashov is continuing his work in evolutionary genetics. He is trying to determine the rate of spontaneous mutations in Drosophila melanogaster.
On his opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kondrashov has stated that: "I have great respect for the image of Christ, however I do not like the Russian Orthodox Church and the way it represents the religion”. In reply to some readers' questions on the orthodox Internet portal «Православие и мир,» Kondrashov stated that while the church has the right to declare their views on homosexuality, its political support of banning gay pride parades actively violates the rights of homosexuals.
- Kondrashov, A.S. 1988. Deleterious mutations and the evolution of sexual reproduction. Nature 336: 435-440
- Kondrashov AS & Crow JF. 1991. Haploidy or diploidy: which is better? Nature 351:314-315
- Kondrashov AS & Kondrashov FA. 1999. Interactions among quantitative traits in the course of symaptric speciation. Nature 400: 351-354
- Kondrashov AS & Houle D. 1994. Genotype-Environment interactions and the estimation of the genomci mutation-reate in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 258: 221-227
- Jordan IK, Kondrashov FA, Adzhubei IA, Wolf YI, Koonin EV, Kondrashov AS, Sunyaev S. 2005. A universal trend of amino acid gain and loss in protein evolution Nature 433: 633-638
- Победители школьных биологических олимпиад МГУ 1975-1992 г.г. // Сайт Olympiads.mccme.ru
- А. С. Кондрашов Хроника неожиданного открытия // Сайт Wsyachina.narod.ru
- Alexey Kondrashov // Сайт lsi.umich.edu
- Kondrashov Lab research // Сайт lsi.umich.edu
- Kondrashov, A.S. 2013. Genetics: The Rate Of Human Mutation. Nature 488: 467-468
- The evolution of sex // Сайт usfca.edu
- А. С. Кондрашов Научно-популярные лекции // Сайт Evolgenomics.fbb.msu.ru
- На что Алексей Кондрашов тратит мегагрант // Сайт strf.ru
- Что будет с мегагрантами // Сайт trv-science.ru
- Привлечение ведущих ученых в российские образовательные учреждения высшего профессионального образования // Сайт P220.ru
- Kondrashov's Nature News & Views gets media attention
- Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia // Сайт nytimes.com
- Kondrashov, A.S. 2012. Genetics: The rate of human mutation. Nature 488: 467-468
- Kondrashov A.S.Lab
- Алексей Кондрашов Письмо в редакцию: Почему я не православный? // Портал Православие и мир, 5 апреля, 2011
- Алексей Кондрашов Возможен ли диалог? // Портал Православие и мир, 15 апреля 2011