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Emeritus Professor Malcolm A Ferguson-Smith Emeritus Professor of Pathology

Emeritus Professor Malcolm A Ferguson-Smith, Emeritus Professor of Pathology

Emeritus Professor of Pathology

Malcolm Ferguson-Smith is available for consultancy.

Research Interests

Our group uses the techniques of molecular cytogenetics, including chromosome sorting by flow cytometry, chromosome painting (see image above), chromosome microdissection and gene mapping, to study vertebrate karyotype evolution and phylogenomics. In our role as the Cambridge Resource Centre for Comparative Genomics we provide the international genomics community with chromosome-specific DNA from almost 200 different species. These resources are used mostly for comparative gene mapping, evolutionary studies and experimental cancer cytology. Our Chromhome database gives online access to cross-species chromosome homology maps. A current research interest of the group is in the evolution of sex chromosome systems in vertebrates, particularly in monotremes, birds and reptiles, and especially the sequence of mammalian Y and avian W chromosomes.




Main collaborators

  • Prof Alexander Graphodatsky and Dr Vladimir Trifonov, Institute of Cytology and Genetics,  Novosibirsk
  • Prof Jenny Graves, La Trobe University, Melbourne
  • Prof Ettore Olmo and Dr Massimo Giovannetti,  University of Marche, Ancona
  • Prof Terry Robinson, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland
  • Prof Julio Pieczarka. Federal University of Para, Brazil
  • Prof Darren Griffin, University of Kent
  • Dr Fengtang Yang, Sanger Institute
  • Dr Wes Warren, Washington State University, St Louis
  • Dr David Goudie, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee


  • Chromosome sorting
  • Chromosome painting
  • Gene mapping
  • Molecular cytogenetics

Key Publications

Key publications                      

LITHGOW PE, O'CONNOR R, SMITH D, FONSEKA G, AL MUTERY A, RATHJE C, FRODSHAM R, O'BRIEN P, KASAI F, FERGUSON-SMITH MA, ET AL. (2014)  Novel tools for characterising inter and intra chromosomal rearrangements in avian
microchromosomes.  Chromosome Research 22:85-97.

FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., GOUDIE, DR. (2014) Digenic/multilocus aetiology of multiple self-healing squamous epithelioma (Ferguson-Smith disease): TGFBR1 and a second linked locus. Int J Biochem Cell Biol.,

FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., BAVINGTON, LD. (2014). Natural Selection for Genetic Variants in Sport: The Role of Y Chromosome Genes in Elite Female Athletes With 46,XY DSD. Sports Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-014-0249-8

SONKSEN, P., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., BAVINGTON, LD., HOLT, RIG., COWAN, DA., CATLIN, DH., KIDD, B., DAVIS, G., DAVIS, P., EDWARDS, L., TAMAR-MATTIS, A. (2014).  Medical and ethical concerns regarding women with hyperandrogenism
and elite sport. J.Clin.Endocrinol. Metab. doi:10.12.10/jc.2014-3206.

DI-NIZO, CN., VENTURA, K., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., O’BRIEN, PCM., YONENAGA-YASSUDA, Y., SILVA, NJJ. (2015). Comparative chromosome painting in six species of Oligoryzomys (Rodentia, Sigmodontinae) and the karyotype
evolution of the genus.  PLoS One:DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117579.

KRETSCHMER, R., de OLIVEIRA, EHC., dos SANTOS, MS., FURO, IO., O’BRIEN, PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., GARNERO, AV., GUNSKI, RJ. (2015). Chromosome mapping of the large Elaenia (Elaenia spectabilis): evidence for a cytogenetic signature for passeriform birds.  Biol. J. Linnean Soc.115:391-398. doi:10.1111/bij.12504

POKORNA, MJ., TRIFONOV, VA., RENS, W., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., KRATOCHVIL, L. (2015) Low rate of interchromosomal rearrangements during old radiation of gekkotan lizaards (Squamata: Gekkota). Chromosome Research 23:299-309.  DOI:
10.1007/s10577-015-9468-6. 583.

RIBAS, TFA., RODRIGUES, LRR., NAGAMACHI, CY., GOMES, AJB., RISSINO, JD., O’BRIEN, PCM., YANG, F., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., PIECZARKA, JC. (2015) Phylogenetic reconstruction by cross-species chromosome painting and G-banding in four species of Phyllostomini tribe (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) in the Brazilian Amazon: an independent evidence for monophyly. PLoS One:10(3):e122845.  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122845.

FERGUSON-SMITH, MA. (2015) History and evolution of cytogenetics. Mol.Cytogenet. 8(1):2015. DOI 10.1186/s13039-015-0125-B.

FURO, I de O., KRETCHMER, R., O’BRIEN, PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., de OLIVIERA, EHC. (2015) Chromosomal diversity and karyotype evolution in South American macaws (Psittaciformes, Psittacidae). PLoS ONE 10(6): e0130157.

KRETSCHMER, R., GUNSKI, RJ., GARNERO, A del V., O’BRIEN, PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., de FREITAS, TRO., de OLIVIERA, EHC. (2015)  Chromosome painting in Vanellus chilensis: detection of a fusion common to clade
Charadrii (Chadriiformes). Cytogenet. Genome Res. 146:58-63. DOI:10.1159/000431387.  

dos SANTOS, M da S., KRETSCHMER, R., SILVAS, FAO., LEDESMA, MA., O’BRIEN PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., GARNERO, A del V., de OLIVIERA, EHC., GUNSKI, RJ. (2015) Intrachromosomal rearrangements in two representatives of the genus
Saltator (Thraupidae, Passeriformes) and the occurrence of heteromorphic chromosomes. Genetica  DOI 10.1007/s10709-015-9851-4.  

TRIFONOV, VA., PAOLETTI, A., BARUCCHI, VC., KALININA, T., O’BRIEN, PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., GIOVANNOTTI, M. (2015) Comparative painting and NOR distribution suggest a complex hybrid origin of triploid Lepidactylus
lugubris (Gekkonidae) populations. PLoS ONE 10(7):e132380.

VENTURA, K., O’BRIEN, PCM., do NASCCIMENTO MOREIRA, C., YONENAGA-YASSUDA, Y., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA.(2015) On the origin and evolution of the extant system of B chromosomes in Oyzomyini radiation (Rodentia. Sygmodontinae).
PLoS One 10(8):e0136663 2015.

NIE, W., O’BRIEN, PCM, FU, B., WANG, J., SU, W., BED’HOM, B.,VOLOBUEV, V., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., YANG, F.  (2015) Karyotype evolution in Accipitridae revealed by multidirectional chromosome painting. BMC Evolutionary Biology
15:205 DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0484-0.

FURO, I de O., MONTE, AA., dos SANTOS, M da S., TAGLIARINI, MM., O’BRIEN, PCM.,  FERGUSON-SMITH MA., de OLIVIER, EHC. (2015)  Cytotaxonomy of Eurypyga helias (Gruiformes, Eurypygidae): First karyotype description and
phylogenetic proximity with Rynochetidae. PLoS ONE 10(12):e0143982.DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0143982.

amphibious, Dicrostonyx torquatus  and Myodes rutilus.  Chromosome Research 24:1 -15. doi:10.1007/s10577-015-9504-6.

EDWARDS, AM., CAMERON, EZ., PEREIRA, JC., FERGUSON-SMITH, MA. (2016) Paternal sex allocation: how variable is the sperm sex ratio? J.Zool. doi: 10.1111/jzo.12317.

PEREIRA, AL., MALCHER, SM., NAGAMACHI, CY., O’BRIEN, PCM., FERGUSON-SMITH,MA., MENDES-OLIVEIRA, AC., PIECZARKA, JC. (2016)  Extensive chromosomal reorganization in the evolution of New World muroid rodents (Cricetidae, Sigmoidontinae): searching for ancestral phylogenetic traits. PloS One doi:

TOMASZKIEWICZ, M., RANGAVITTAL, S., CECHOVA, M., SANCHEZ, RC., FESCEMEYER,H., HARRIS, R., YE, D., O’BRIEN, PCM., CHIKHI, R., RYDER, O.FERGUSON-SMITH, MA., MEDVEDEV, P., MAKOVA, K.  (2016) A time- andcost-effective strategy to sequence mammalian Y chromosomes: an applicationto the de novo assembly of gorilla Y.  Genome Research.

SEIBOLD-TORRES, C., OWENS, E., CHOWDARY, R., FERGUSON-SMITH, M.A., TIZARD, I., RAUDSEPP, T. (2016) Comparative cytogenetics of the Congo African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus).  Cytogenet. Genome Res. DOI: 10.1159/000444136.