Olga Vakhrusheva

Supervisor: Mikhail Gelfand


My research interests lie in the field of evolutionary biology and comparative genomics. I am particularly interested in applying bioinformatic approaches to study how natural selection and recombination shape genomes on both short and long-term evolutionary scales.

My recent research is focused on population genomics of bdelloid rotifers. Abandoning sexual reproduction in eukaryotes usually results in a quick extinction and on these grounds is commonly regarded as an evolutionary dead-end. However, existence of several groups of putative ancient asexual species challenges this idea. Bdelloid rotifers are one of the most prominent examples of such putative anciently asexual group, that presumably abandoned conventional sexual reproduction tens of millions of years ago. If this is true, it is completely unclear how bdelloids have managed to survive in the absence of genetic exchange and recombination. The  main reason to believe that bdelloids do not engage in meiosis is the failure to detect males in numerous bdelloid species. However, this does not exclude the possibility of cryptic forms of sexual reproduction and other types of genetic exchange in their populations. Using population genomic approaches, we have shown that that the genetic variation in a wild population of the bdelloid rotifer was shaped by genetic exchanges between individuals and recombination, and is inconsistent with obligate asexuality. These results provide the solution to the conundrum of  bdelloid rotifers and underscore importance of recombination for the long-term evolutionary success.

  • Vakhrusheva OA, Mnatsakanova EA, Galimov YR. et al. (2020) Genomic signatures of recombination in a natural population of the bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga. Nat Commun 11: 6421. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19614-y.
  • Kudryavtseva OA, Safina KR, Vakhrusheva OA, Logacheva MD, Penin AA, Neretina TV, Moskalenko VN, Glagoleva, ES, Bazykin GA, and Kondrashov AS. (2019) Genetics of Adaptation of the Ascomycetous Fungus Podospora anserina to Submerged Cultivation. Genome Biol Evol 11: 2807–2817. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evz194.
  • Sohail M, Vakhrusheva OA, Sul JH, Pulit SL, Francioli LC, et al. (2017) Negative selection in humans and fruit flies involves synergistic epistasis. Science 356(6337):539–42. doi:10.1126/science.aah5238.
  • Vakhrusheva OA, Bazykin GA, Kondrashov AS. (2013) Genome-Level Analysis of Selective Constraint without Apparent Sequence Conservation. Genome Biol Evol 5: 532–541. doi:10.1093/gbe/evt023.
  • Flot J-F, Hespeels B, Li X, Noel B, Arkhipova I, …, Vakhrusheva OA, …, et al. (2013) Genomic evidence for ameiotic evolution in the bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga. Nature 500: 453–457. doi:10.1038/nature12326.

2010–2013             Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.
Ph.D. student

2005–2010             Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia. Specialist degree in bioengineering and bioinformatics, cum laude.



  • Young Investigator Award from the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (2019).