Reto Burri


Reto Burri
Reto Burri (Foto © Archiv Vogelwarte)

Dr. Reto Burri
Swiss Ornithological Institute
Seerose 1
CH-6204 Sempach

++41 41 462 97 21


Deputy Head of Science


  • Molecular Ecology
  • Genomics of Adaptation and Speciation
  • Immunogenetics

Current Projects

  • Genomics of hybridization, speciation, and phenotypic evolution in wheatears (funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG)


  • Prof. Alexander Suh – University of East Anglia, UK & Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Dr. Manuel Schweizer – Natural History Museum Bern, Switzerland
  • Prof. Holger Schielzeth – Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Prof. Rauri Bowie – University of Berkeley, USA
  • Dr. Niloofar Alaei Kakhki – Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Prof. Tamer Albayrak – Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Turkey
  • Dr. Pavlos Andriopoulos – National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • Prof. Mansour Aliabadian – Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, Iran
  • Dr. Vasileios Bontzorlos – University of Applied Sciences of Thessaly, Greece
  • José Luis Copete – Spain
  • Dr. Egidio Fulco – Italy
  • Prof. Zura Javakhishvili – Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Nika Paposhvili – Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Attila Sándor – University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj, Romania
  • Fabian Schneider – Switzerland
  • Hadoram Shirihai – Switzerland
  • Prof. Petar Shurulinkov – National Museum of Natural History, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Dr. Sergey Sklyarenko, Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan, Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Dr. Borut Stumberger  – Slovenia
  • Dr. Abulfaz Tagiyev, Baku State University, Azerbaijan
  • Prof. Yang Liu – Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China 


Employment History

2020/09 – present Deputy Head of Science, Swiss Ornithological Institute
2016/06 – 2020/08 Group Leader
Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
2012/10 – 2016/05 Post-doctoral Researcher
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden
2011/03 – 2012/09 Swiss NSF post-doctoral fellow
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden
2005/07 – 2010/10 PhD student and teaching assistant
Laboratory of Conservation Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne


2010 PhD in Life Sciences
University of Lausanne (Dr. Luca Fumagalli, Prof. Alexandre Roulin)
2005 Höheres Lehramt (high-School teaching certificate)
University of Bern
2004 MSc in Biology
University of Bern (Prof. Gerald Heckel)
1999/09 – 2002/06 Undergraduate studies in Biology
University of Bern


Google Scholar Account:

45.    Peona V, Blom MPK, Xu L, BURRI RETO, Sullivan S, Bunikis I, Liachko I, Jønsson KA, Zhou Q, Irestedt Martin, Suh A. Identifying the causes and consequences of assembly gaps using a multiplatform genome assembly of a bird-of-paradise. Molecular Ecology Resources, in press

44.    Lutgen D, Ritter R, Olsen RA, Schielzeth H, Gruselius J, Ewels PA, Garcia JT, Shirihai H, Schweizer M, Suh A & BURRI RETO. Linked-read sequencing enables haplotype-resolved resequencing at population scale.     Molecular Ecology Resources, in press

43.    O’Connor E, Westerdahl H, BURRI RETO, Edwards SV (2019) Avian MHC evolution in the era of genomics: Phase 1.0. Cells, 8(10):1152

42.    Gaigher A, BURRI RETO, San-José Garcia L, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2020) Lack of statistical power as a major limitation in understanding MHC-mediated immunocompetence in wild vertebrate populations. Molecular Ecology, 28(23):5115-5132

41.    Schweizer M, Warmuth V, Alaei N, Aliabadian M, Förschler M, Shirihai H, Ewels P, Griselius J, Olsen RA, Schielzeth H, Suh A & BURRI RETO (2019) Genome-wide evidence supports mitochondrial relationships and pervasive parallel phenotypic evolution in open-habitat chats
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 139(10):106568

40.     Schweizer M, Warmuth V, Alaei N, Aliabadian M, Förschler M, Shirihai H, Suh A & BURRI RETO  (2019) Parallel color evolution and introgressive hybridization in wheatears. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 32 (1): 100-110

39.    Nadachowska-Brzyska K, BURRI RETO, Ellegren H (2019) Footprints of adaptive evolution revealed by whole Z chromosomes haplotypes in flycatchers. Molecular Ecology, 28(9):2290-2304

38.    Schielzeth H, Rios A & BURRI RETO (2018) Success and failure in replication of genotype-phenotype associations: How does replication help in understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic variation in outbred populations? Molecular Ecology Resources, 18:739-754

37.    Gaigher A, Roulin A, Gharib WH, Taberlet P, BURRI RETO*, Fumagalli L* (2018) Lack of evidence for selection favouring MHC haplotypes that combine high functional diversity. Heredity, 120(5):396-406.

36.    BURRI RETO (2017) Interpreting differentiation landscapes in the light of long-term linked selection. Evolution Letters, 1(3):118-131.

35.    BURRI RETO (2017) Linked selection, demography, and the evolution of correlated genomic landscapes in birds and beyond. Molecular Ecology, 26(15):3853–3856.

34.    BURRI RETO (2017) Dissecting differentiation landscapes: A linked selection’s perspective 
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30:1501-1505.

33.    Goebel J, Promerová M, Bonadonna F, McCoy K, Serbielle C, Strandh M, Yannic G, BURRI RETO*, Fumagalli L*. (2017) 100 million years of multigene family evolution: Origins and evolution of the avian MHC class IIB BMC Genomics, 18:460.

32.    Kawakami T, Mugal CF, Suh A, Nater A, BURRI RETO, Smeds L, Ellegren H (2017) Whole-genome patterns of linkage disequilibrium in flycatcher genomes clarify the causes and consequences of fine-scale recombination rate variation in birds. Molecular Ecology, 26(16):4158-4172.

31.    Vijay N, Weissensteiner M, BURRI RETO, Kawakami T, Ellegren H, Wolf J (2017) Genome-wide signatures of genetic variation within and between populations – a comparative perspective
Molecular Ecology, 26(16):4284-4295.

30.    Dutoit L, Vijay N, Mugal CF, Bossu CM, BURRI RETO, Wolf J, Ellegren H (2017) Covariation in levels of nucleotide diversity in homologous regions of the avian genome long after completion of lineage sorting. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284(1849), 20162756.

29.    Promerová M, Alavioon G, Tusso S, BURRI RETO, Immler S (2017) No evidence for transmission ratio distortion in MHC class II in the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Heredity, 118:563-567.

28.     Dutoit L, BURRI RETO, Nater A, Mugal CF, Ellegren H (2017)     Distribution and estimation of nucleotide diversity in the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) genome. Molecular Ecology Resources, 17(4):586-597.

27.    Gaigher A, BURRI RETO, Gharib WH, Taberlet P, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2016) Family-assisted inference of the genetic architecture of MHC variation. Molecular Ecology Resources, 16(6):1353-1364.

26.    Uebbing S, Künstner A, Mäkinen H, Backström N, Bolivar P, BURRI RETO, Dutoit L, Mugal CF, Nater A, Bronwen A, Flicek P, Martin FJ, Searle SMJ, Ellegren H (2016) Divergence in gene expression within and between two closely related flycatcher species. Molecular Ecology, 25(9):2015-2028.

25.    Nadachowska-Brzyska K, BURRI RETO, Smeds L, Ellegren H (2016) PSMC-analysis of effective population sizes in molecular ecology and its application to black-and-white Ficedula flycatchers. Molecular Ecology, 25(5):1058-1072.

24.    BURRI RETO*, Antoniazza S*, Gaigher A, Ducrest A, Simon C,  The European Barn Owl Network, Fumagalli L, Goudet J, Roulin A (2016) The genetic basis of color adaptation in a ring-like colonization around the Mediterranean. Evolution, 70(1):140-153. 

23.    BURRI RETO, Nater A, Kawakami T, Mugal CF, Olason PI, Smeds L, Suh A, Dutoit L, Bureš S, Garamszegi LZ, Hogner S, Moreno J, Qvarnström A, Ružic M, Sæther SA, Sætre GP, Török J, Ellegren H (2015)     Linked selection and recombination rate variation drive the evolution of the genomic landscape of differentiation across the speciation continuum in Ficedula flycatcher  
    Genome Research, 25(11):1656-1665.

22.     Nater A, BURRI RETO, Kawakami T, Ellegren H (2015) Resolving evolutionary relationships in closely related species with whole genome sequencing data Systematic Biology, 64(6):1000-1017.

21.    Smeds L, Warmuth V, Bolivar P,Uebbing S, BURRI RETO, Suh A, Bureš S, Garamszegi LZ, Hogner S, Moreno J, Qvarnström A, Ružic M, Sæther SA, Sætre GP, Török J, Ellegren H (2015) Evolutionary analysis of the female-specific avian W chromosome. Nature Communications, 6:7330.

20.    Antoniazza S, Kanitz R, Neuenschwander S, BURRI RETO, Gaigher A, Roulin A, Goudet J (2014)
    Natural selection in a post-glacial range expansion: the case of the color cline in the European barn owl. Molecular Ecology, 23(22):5508-5523.

19.     Smeds L.*, Kawakami T*, BURRI RETO, Bolivar Balbas P, Husby A, Qvarnström A, Uebbing S, Ellegren H (2014)     Genomic identification and characterization of the pseudoautosomal region in a highly differentiated avian sex chromosome. Nature Communications, 5:5448.

18.    Kawakami T, Backström N, BURRI RETO, Husby A, Rice A, Alund M, Qvarnström A, Ellegren H (2014) Estimation of linkage disequilibrium and gene flow in Ficedula flycatchers by a newly developed 50k SNP array. Molecular Ecology Resources, 14, 1248-1260.

17.    BURRI RETO, Promerová M, Goebel J, Fumagalli L (2014) PCR-based isolation of multigene families: Lessons from the avian MHCIIB. Molecular Ecology Resources, 14(4):778-788.

16.    Nadachowska-Brzyska K, BURRI RETO, Olason P, Kawakami T, Smeds L, Ellegren H (2013) Demographic divergence history of pied flycatcher and collared flycatcher inferred from whole-genome re-sequencing data. PLoS Genetics, 9(11):e1003942.

15.     Ellegren H, Smeds L, BURRI RETO, Olason PI, Backström N, Kawakami T, Künstner A, Mäkinen H, Nadachowska-Brzyska K,  Qvarnström A, Uebbing S, Wolf JBW (2012) The genomic landscape of species divergence in Ficedula flycatchers. Nature 491(7426):756-760.

14.    Yannic G, BURRI RETO, Malikov VG, Vogel P (2012) Systematics of snow voles (genus Chionomys, Arvicolinae) revisited. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 62(3):806-815.

13.    Henry I, Antoniazza S, Dubey S, Simon C, BURRI RETO, Roulin A (2013) Multiple paternity in polyandrous barn owls (Tyto alba). PLoS ONE, 8 (11):e80112.

12.    Collin H, BURRI RETO, Comptesse F, Fumagalli L (2013) Combining molecular evolution and environmental genomics to unravel adaptive processes of MHC class IIB diversity in European minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus). Ecology and Evolution, 3 (8), 2568-2585.

11.    Dreiss A, Antoniazza S, BURRI RETO, Fumagalli L, Sonnay C, Frey C, Goudet J, Roulin A (2012) Local adaptation and matching habitat choice in female barn owls with respect to melanic coloration. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(1), 103-114.

10.     Roulin A, Antoniazza S, BURRI RETO (2011) Spatial variation in the temporal change of male and female melanic ornamentation in the barn owl. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24(7), 1403-1409.

9.    Meunier J, Figueiredo Pinto S, BURRI RETO, Roulin A (2011) Eumelanin-based coloration and fitness parameters in birds: a meta-analysis. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(4):559-567.

8.     Roulin A, BURRI RETO, Antoniazza S (2011) Owl melanin-based plumage redness is more frequent near than away from the equator: implications on the effect of global warming and biodiversity. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 102(3):573-582.

7.    BURRI RETO, Salamin N, Studer R A, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2010) Adaptive divergence of ancient gene duplicates in the avian MHC class II B. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 27(10):2360-2374.

6.    Antoniazza S*, BURRI RETO*, Fumagalli L, Goudet J, Roulin A (2010) Local adaptation maintains clinal variation in melanin-based coloration of European barn owls (Tyto alba) Evolution, 64(7):1944-1954. 

5.    BURRI RETO, Niculita-Hirzel H, Salamin N, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2008) Evolutionary patterns of MHC class II B in owls and their implications for the under-standing of avian MHC evolution
Molecular Biology and Evolution, 25(6):1180-1191.

4.    BURRI RETO, Niculita-Hirzel H, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2008) Isolation and characterization of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II B genes in the Barn owl (Aves: Tyto alba)
Immunogenetics, 60(9):543-550.

3.    BURRI RETO, Antoniazza S, Siverio F, Klein A, Roulin A, Fumagalli L (2008) Isolation and characterization of 21 microsatellite markers in the Barn Owl (Tyto alba). Molecular Ecology Resources, 8(5):977-979.

2.    Heg D, Bergmüller R, Bonfils D, Otti O, Bachar Z, BURRI RETO, Heckel G, Taborsky M (2006) Cichlids do not adjust reproductive skew to the availability of independent breeding options. Behavioral Ecology, 17(3):419-429.

1.    Heckel G, BURRI RETO, Fink S, Desmet JF, Excoffier L (2005) Genetic structure and colonization processes in European populations of the common vole, Microtus arvalis. Evolution, 59(10):2231-2242.

Not peer-reviewed publications

Schweizer M & BURRI RETO (2019)
New insights in taxonomy of wheatears. Dutch Birding, 41(2):115-120