Bengt Olle Bengtsson

Bengt Olle Bengtsson

Professor emeritus

Personal profile


Since my first course in genetics, I have been interested in the following problem: What are the evolutionary forces that act on genetic systems? Text-books explain how evolution follows from the laws of genetics – but how are the laws of genetics shaped by evolution?

My thesis (Oxford 1974) discussed chromosome evolution in mammals, and since then I have studied a large number of different phenomena. Using theoretical population genetics I have analysed the pros and cons of inbreeding, sex-ratio evolution, pheromone genetics, the evolution of recombination, partial asexuality, genetic conflicts, and genome evolution. With students, empirical studies have been made on karyotype evolution in shrews, recombination rates in barley, partial asexual reproduction in plants, and a horizontal gene transfer between two grass species. My current research interest concerns the population genetics of positive mutations that rapidly deteriorate in fitness.

Over years of lecturing I have introduced many students to the study of evolution and population genetics, and Torbjörn Säll and I are currently involved in writing a pedagogical material called Understanding Population Genetics.

Genetics has always been a science in the midst of society, and with historical studies and political interventions I have continuously tried to reflect on this special relationship. Two books in Swedish have so far come out of this interest.