Massey’s research in genetics and genomics seeks to understand how organisms adapt and interact with their environment and one another. We apply a range of genetic analyses including genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, along with more traditional morphological, cytogenetic, and molecular approaches to understand how cells and organisms function.

Research expertise


Our researchers are using techniques from areas such as computer science, contemporary genomics and statistics to decipher large biological systems such as DNA, RNA and chromatin information, including modelling genome dynamics. One focus is establishing how genetic variation is distributed within and between individuals and determining how this diversity changes over evolutionary time.


Comparative genomics

Understanding the genome is central for studies ranging from disease and cancer to fundamental questions in evolution. By unravelling the information in genomes and why selection favours one genotype we are learning to unlock the secrets of life’s building blocks.

We work on the genetics of diversification, reverse evolution and rules of genetic evolution and evolutionary relationships among species.


Conservation and ecological genetics

Expertise in understanding the biological significance of genetic traits, their contribution to ecological performance and the regulatory networks that control their expression. We use population genetics (multi-locus markers, DNA sequence data, cytogenetics) to assess the conservation status, genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of populations.


Developmental genetics

Organisms can adapt to changes in the environment by altering their developmental programmes. Differences in gene function and expression provide the basis for adaptability, and understanding how these genes work may lead to improved characteristics, such as drought or stress resistance in plants.


Genetic disease in animals

Our work defines breeding objectives for animals, calculates economic values using farm models, examines the contribution of the major histocompatibility complex to disease resistance, and identifies mutations associated with inherited diseases in animals. We work to understand genetic mechanisms underlying production, reproduction and disease resistance. We also have expertise in control and prevention of livestock disease through recombinant DNA techniques.


Molecular and evolutionary ecology

Our research investigates the evolutionary and ecological processes that determine the structure and functioning of populations and communities. We use genetic/genomic tools in combination with environmental DNA sampling, field surveys, and experiments to address questions on population connectivity, local adaptation, trophic interactions, and the distribution of genetic diversity in natural populations and communities.


Plant evolutionary genetics, systematics and taxonomy

We are focused on understanding the distribution of genetic variation within and among groups of individual plants. We also work through quantitative genetics to elucidate the genetic basis of traits with continuous distributions. In plant science, these fields of study are utilised to several ends, including conservation biology, evolution, plant breeding, functional genetics and more. We also employ molecular genetic and genomics approaches to plant systematics and taxonomy.



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    Research projects


      Animal Genetic Services

      Massey University’s Equine Parentage and Animal Genetics Services Centre offers the most comprehensive range of DNA-based genetic testing for animals in New Zealand.

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      Manawatū Microscopy and Imaging Centre

      The MMIC facility is available for use by organisations such as researchers, Crown Research Institutes, other teaching institutions, hospitals and commercial clients. We offer transmitted light and fluorescence microscopy, electron microscopy and image analysis and have a professional team of specialists to help you with your microscopy needs.

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      Massey Genome Service

      Massey Genome Service provides DNA & RNA sequencing services to New Zealand researchers and students.

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      Departments and staff

      Find out about the departments and staff involved in genetics and genomics research at Massey University.

      Research centres