Dr Suzanne Williams

Dr Suzanne Williams

Researcher

Department: Life Sciences
Division: LS Invertebrates Division
Contact: email
Phone: 020 7942 5351
NHM Colour and Vision Exhibition

Specialisms

biogeography, evolution of shell colour, marine molluscs, speciation

Summary

My research attempts to identify the mechanisms that generate diversity in species-rich biomes (particularly the Indo-West Pacific Ocean) and the factors that drive cladogenesis, both extrinsic and intrinsic factors that may act globally, regionally or locally and the factors that contribute to phenotypic diversity. I am particularly interested in the effects of large-scale events that have modified entire communities. This includes vicariant events arising from sea-level change and tectonic events, global climate change and the evolution of key innovations (including trophic shifts, loss of eyes and the evolution of colour).

In recent projects I have been working on colour and vision in molluscs. Colour plays an important role in the survival of many species, specifically in camouflage, warning and attraction. Colour can also offer a visible link between an external phenotype and its corresponding genotype, providing a model for the exploration of fundamental evolutionary processes. In order to study how colour and pattern has evolved it is imperative to know which pigments are responsible for colouration and how these pigments originate. Once a pigment is known, molecular studies can be more targeted in identifying genes associated with its pigment. I have been working with an international team to identify shell pigments in marine snails and the genes responsible for their synthesis.

In a recent collaboration with Dr Lauren Sumner-Rooney we have investigated how deep-sea gastropods belonging to the family Solariellidae are losing their sight. We have shown that loss of sight does not occur in a consistent or predictable manner, but instead follows numerous different morphological trajectories with eye loss shown to have evolved at least six times in Solariellidae, in at least three different ways. In one case, two independent and morphologically distinct eye reduction events have occurred within a single genus.

Employment history

Academic

Head of Invertebrate Division, Natural History Museum, Department of Life Sciences, United Kingdom, 2017 - ongoing

Researcher, Natural History Museum, Department of Life Sciences, United Kingdom, 2003 - ongoing

Post-doctoral fellow, Natural History Museum, Department of Zoology, United Kingdom, 2001 - 2003

Postdoctoral fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, 1997 - 2000

PhD student, Australian Institute of Marine Science & James Cook University, Australia, 1992 - 1997

Experimental Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia, 1989 - 1992

Highlighted publications

Cunha RL, Assis JM, Madeira C, Seabra R, Lima FP, et al. (2017) Drivers of Cape Verde archipelagic endemism in keyhole limpets. Scientific Reports, 7 : 41817 - 41817. doi: 10.1038/srep41817

Sumner-rooney L, Sigwart JD, Mcafee J, Smith L, Williams ST (2016) Repeated eye reduction events reveal multiple pathways to degeneration in a family of marine snails. Evolution, 70 (10) : 2268 - 2295. doi: 10.1111/evo.13022

Williams ST, Ito S, Wakamatsu K, Goral T, Edwards NP, et al. (2016) Identification of Shell Colour Pigments in Marine Snails Clanculus pharaonius and C. margaritarius (Trochoidea; Gastropoda). PLOS ONE, 11 (7) : e0156664 - e0156664. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156664

Williams ST (2017) Molluscan shell colour. Biological Reviews, 92 (2) : 1039 - 1058. doi: 10.1111/brv.12268

Williams ST, Smith LM, Herbert DG, Marshall BA, Warén A, et al. (2013) Cenozoic climate change and diversification on the continental shelf and slope: evolution of gastropod diversity in the family Solariellidae (Trochoidea). Ecology and Evolution, 3 (4) : 887 - 917. doi: 10.1002/ece3.513

Grants

World Congress of Malacology 2010
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: Royal Society
Total value £1,470 (to Museum £1,470)
Dates: 2010 - 2010

Global taxonomic revision of the deep-sea marine gastropod family Solariellidae
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: EDIT (European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy)
Total value £17,393 (to Museum £17,393)
Dates: 2009 - 2010

Global taxonomic revision of the deep-sea marine gastropod family Solariellidae
Role: Principal investigator
Total value £15,520
Dates: 2009 - 2010

Origins of shallow and deep-water tropical diversity
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: CoSyst (Collaborative Scheme for Systematics Research)
Total value £6,110 (to Museum £6,110)
Dates: 2009 - 2010

Speciation in marine broadcast spawning invertebrates: global biogeography of tropical gastropod genus Turbo
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: NERC
Total value £46,561 (to Museum £46,561)
Dates: 2004 - 2007

To present keynote lecture at the World Congress of Malacology in Antwerp, Belgium
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: Royal Society
Total value £660

Global phylogeny and biogeography of the tropical gastropod genus Turbo
Role: Principal investigator
Funding: Systematics Association
Total value £820

The description of coastal, salt marsh and wet-forest talitrid amphipods of Australia (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Talitridae)
Role: Principal investigatorHughes LE
Co-investigator: Lugli E
Funding: Australian Biological Resources Study
Dates: 2018 - on going

Molecular investigation on skewed sex ratio in Mytilus spp. populations from the Gulf of Gdansk
Role: Co-investigator
Funding: Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education
Total value £33,600
Dates: 2009 - 2012

Molecular phylogeny and evolutionary divergence of Lucinidae, the largest family of chemoautotrophic molluscs
Role: Principal investigatorTaylor J
Role: Co-investigator
Funding: NERC
Total value £18,799 (to Museum £18,799)
Dates: 2003 - 2004

Other projects

Molecular diagnostics for species identification and evolutionary analysis course.
Role: Leader
Funding: Museum development
Dates: 2015 - 2015.

Molluscan deep-sea diversity
Role: Leader
Funding: Museum development

Systematics of Trochoidea
Role: Leader
Funding: Museum development

External Positions

Council Member of Unitas Malacologia, 2016 - on going.

President of the Malacological Society of London, 2015 - on going.

Chair of the Awards Committee, Malacological Society of London, 2012 - 2015.

Vice President of the Malacological Society of London, 2009 - 2012.

Council Member, Malacological Society of London, 2006 - 2009.

Committees

Other, Centre for Ecology and Evolution, 2014 - on going.

Editorships

Associate editor, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2011 - 2014.

Associate editor, Journal of Molluscan Studies, 2003 - on going.

Events

Organisation

Organising committee, Colour and Vision: Through the eyes of nature, (Exhibition), 2016 - 2016.

Organising committee, Seventh European Conference of Malacology, Cambridge, (Conference), 2014 - 2014.

Organising committee, Molecular Phylogenetics and Palaeontology Symposium at World Congress of Malacology, Azores, (Symposium),

Organising committee, Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution Meeting, (Conference),

Organiser, Speciation in Molluscs. 115th AGM, Malacological Society of London, (Symposium),

Organiser, Species delimitation and chirality: molluscs as model organisms. 120th AGM, Malacologial Society of London, (Symposium),

Organiser, Resolving deep relationships in Mollusca. 123rd AGM, Malacological Society of London, (Symposium),

Organiser, Symposium on Colour and Vision in Molluscs, 124th AGM, Malacological Society of London, (Symposium),

Internal Positions

Head of Invertebrate Division, Dept of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, 2017 - on going.

Scientific Lead for temporary exhibition, "Colour and Vision: Through the eyes of nature", 2015 - 2016.

Publications

Williams S, Foster P, Hughes C, Harper E, Taylor J, Littlewood D, Dyal P, Hopkins K, Briscoe A (2017) Curious bivalves: Systematic utility and unusual properties of anomalodesmatan mitochondrial genomes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 110 : 60 - 72. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.03.004

Castelin M, Williams ST, Buge B, Maestrati P, Lambourdière J, Ozawa T, Utge J, Couloux A, Alf A, Samadi S (2017) Untangling species identity in gastropods with polymorphic shells in the genus Bolma Risso, 1826 (Mollusca, Vetigastropoda). European Journal of Taxonomy, doi: 10.5852/ejt.2017.288

Cunha RL, Assis JM, Madeira C, Seabra R, Lima FP, Lopes EP, Williams ST, Castilho R (2017) Drivers of Cape Verde archipelagic endemism in keyhole limpets. Scientific Reports, 7 : 41817 - 41817. doi: 10.1038/srep41817

Uribe JE, Williams ST, Templado J, Abalde S, Zardoya R (2017) Denser mitogenomic sampling improves resolution of the phylogeny of the superfamily Trochoidea (Gastropoda: Vetigastropoda). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 83 (1) : 111 - 118. doi: 10.1093/mollus/eyw049

Wort EJG, Fenberg PB, Williams ST (2017) Testing the contribution of individual genes in mitochondrial genomes for assessing phylogenetic relationships in Vetigastropoda. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 83 (1) : 123 - 128. doi: 10.1093/mollus/eyw044

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Smith L, Ikebe C, Williams ST (2016) New molecular phylogeny of Lucinidae: increased taxon base with focus on tropical Western Atlantic species (Mollusca: Bivalvia).. Zootaxa, 4196 (3) : doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4196.3.2

Uribe JE, Williams ST, Templado J, Buge B, Zardoya R (2017) Phylogenetic relationships of Mediterranean and North-East Atlantic Cantharidinae and notes on Stomatellinae (Vetigastropoda: Trochidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107 : 64 - 79. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.10.009

Sumner-rooney L, Sigwart JD, Mcafee J, Smith L, Williams ST (2016) Repeated eye reduction events reveal multiple pathways to degeneration in a family of marine snails. Evolution, 70 (10) : 2268 - 2295. doi: 10.1111/evo.13022

Williams ST, Ito S, Wakamatsu K, Goral T, Edwards NP, Wogelius RA, Henkel T, De OliveiraLFC, Maia LF, Strekopytov S, Jeffries T, Speiser DI, Marsden JT (2016) Identification of Shell Colour Pigments in Marine Snails Clanculus pharaonius and C. margaritarius (Trochoidea; Gastropoda). PLOS ONE, 11 (7) : e0156664 - e0156664. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156664

Glover EA, Williams ST, Taylor JD (2016) Lucinid bivalves of Singapore and their relationships (Bivalvia: Lucinidae). RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY, 539 - 565.

Ward GM, Bennett M, Bateman K, Stentiford GD, Kerr R, Feist SW, Williams ST, Berney C, Bass D (2016) A new phylogeny and environmental DNA insight into paramyxids: an increasingly important but enigmatic clade of protistan parasites of marine invertebrates. International Journal for Parasitology, 46 (10) : 605 - 619. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.04.010

Vilvens C, Williams S (2016) New genus and new species of Solariellidae (Gastropoda: Trochoidea) from New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia, In: Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos 29., Héros V, Strong E, Bouchet P (Eds). null : 267 - 290.

Williams ST (2017) Molluscan shell colour. Biological Reviews, 92 (2) : 1039 - 1058. doi: 10.1111/brv.12268

Williams PH, Byvaltsev AM, Cederberg B, Berezin MV, Ødegaard F, Rasmussen C, Richardson LL, Huang J, Sheffield CS, Williams ST (2015) Genes Suggest Ancestral Colour Polymorphisms Are Shared across Morphologically Cryptic Species in Arctic Bumblebees. PLOS ONE, 10 (12) : e0144544 - e0144544. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144544

Dibattista JD, Roberts MB, Bouwmeester J, Bowen BW, Coker DJ, Lozano-cortés DF, Howard ChoatJ, Gaither MR, Hobbs J-PA, Khalil MT, Kochzius M, Myers RF, Paulay G, Robitzch VSN, Saenz-agudelo P, Salas E, Sinclair-taylor TH, Toonen RJ, Westneat MW, Williams ST, Berumen ML (2016) A review of contemporary patterns of endemism for shallow water reef fauna in the Red Sea. Journal of Biogeography, 43 (3) : 423 - 439. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12649

Cunha RL, Lima FP, Tenorio MJ, Ramos AA, Castilho R, Williams ST (2014) Evolution at a Different Pace: Distinctive Phylogenetic Patterns of Cone Snails from Two Ancient Oceanic Archipelagos. Systematic Biology, 63 (6) : 971 - 987. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syu059

Vilvens C, Williams ST, Herbert DG (2014) New genus Arxellia with new species of Solariellidae (Gastropoda: Trochoidea) from New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Western Australia, Vanuatu and Tonga. Zootaxa, 3826 (1) : 255 - 255. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3826.1.8

Williams S, Foster P, Littlewood D (2014) The complete mitochondrial genome of a turbinid vetigastropod from MiSeq Illumina sequencing of genomic DNA and steps towards a resolved gastropod phylogeny. Gene, 533 (1) : 38 - 47. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2013.10.005

Bowen BW, Shanker K, Yasuda N, Celia M, Malay MCMD, Von derHeydenS, Paulay G, Rocha LA, Selkoe KA, Barber PH, Williams ST, Lessios HA, Crandall ED, Bernardi G, Meyer CP, Carpenter KE, Toonen RJ (2014) Phylogeography unplugged: comparative surveys in the genomic era. Bulletin of Marine Science, 90 (1) : 13 - 46. doi: 10.5343/bms.2013.1007

Helwerda RA, Wesselingh FP, Williams ST (2014) On some Vetigastropoda (Mollusca, Gastropoda) from the Plio-Pleistocene of the Philippines with descriptions of three new species. ZOOTAXA, 3755 (2) : 101 - 135. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3755.2.1

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Williams ST (2014) Diversification of chemosymbiotic bivalves: origins and relationships of deeper water Lucinidae. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 111 (2) : 401 - 420. doi: 10.1111/bij.12208

Williams ST, Smith LM, Herbert DG, Marshall BA, Warén A, Kiel S, Dyal P, Linse K, Vilvens C, Kano Y (2013) Cenozoic climate change and diversification on the continental shelf and slope: evolution of gastropod diversity in the family Solariellidae (Trochoidea). Ecology and Evolution, 3 (4) : 887 - 917. doi: 10.1002/ece3.513

Claremont M, Houart R, Williams ST, Reid DG (2013) A molecular phylogenetic framework for the Ergalataxinae (Neogastropoda: Muricidae). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 79 (1) : 19 - 29. doi: 10.1093/mollus/eys028

Claremont M, Vermeij GJ, Williams ST, Reid DG (2013) Global phylogeny and new classification of the Rapaninae (Gastropoda: Muricidae), dominant molluscan predators on tropical rocky seashores. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 66 (1) : 91 - 102. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.09.014

Lasota R, Piłczyńska J, Williams S, Wołowicz M (2013) Fast and easy method for total DNA extraction and gene amplification from larvae, spat and adult mussels Mytilus trossulus from the Baltic Sea. Oceanological and Hydrobiological Studies, 42 (4) : doi: 10.2478/s13545-013-0105-8

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Williams ST (2013) Taxonomy and phylogeny of western Atlantic Lucinidae: new genus for Lucina costata d'Orbigny, 1846, a new species of Ferrocina and neotype designation for Venus orbiculata (Montagu, 1808). NAUTILUS, 127 (4) : 131 - 146.

Williams ST (2013) Margarellinae: a new calliostomatid subfamily. Zoologica Scripta, 42 (2) : 227 - 227. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2012.00566.x

Claremont M, Reid DG, Williams ST (2012) Speciation and dietary specialization in Drupa , a genus of predatory marine snails (Gastropoda: Muricidae). Zoologica Scripta, 41 (2) : 137 - 149. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2011.00512.x

Donald KM, Preston J, Williams ST, Reid DG, Winter D, Alvarez R, Buge B, Hawkins SJ, Templado J, Spencer HG (2012) Phylogenetic relationships elucidate colonization patterns in the intertidal grazers Osilinus Philippi, 1847 and Phorcus Risso, 1826 (Gastropoda: Trochidae) in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 62 (1) : 35 - 45. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.09.002

Gower DJ, Johnson KG, Richardson JE, Rosen BR, Rüber L, Williams ST (2012) Biotic evolution and environmental change in Southeast Asia. The Systematics Association Special Volume 82 & Cambridge University Press : Cambridge. i - 475.

Reid DG, Dyal P, Williams ST (2012) A global molecular phylogeny of 147 periwinkle species (Gastropoda, Littorininae). Zoologica Scripta, 41 (2) : 125 - 136. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2011.00505.x

Williams ST (2012) Advances in molecular systematics of the vetigastropod superfamily Trochoidea. Zoologica Scripta, 41 (6) : 571 - 595. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2012.00552.x

Williams ST, Hall A, Kuklinski P (2012) Unraveling Cryptic Diversity in the Indo-West Pacific Gastropod Genus Lunella (Turbinidae) using Elliptic Fourier Analysis *. American Malacological Bulletin, 30 (1) : 189 - 206. doi: 10.4003/006.030.0117

Claremont M, Reid DG, Williams ST (2011) Evolution of corallivory in the gastropod genus Drupella. Coral Reefs, 30 (4) : 977 - 990. doi: 10.1007/s00338-011-0788-5

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Smith L, Dyal P, Williams ST (2011) Molecular phylogeny and classification of the chemosymbiotic bivalve family Lucinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 163 (1) : 15 - 49. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2011.00700.x

Williams ST, Apte D, Ozawa T, Kagilis F, Nakano T (2011) Speciation and dispersal along continental coastlines and island arcs in the Indo-West Pacific turbinid gastropod genus Lunella.. Evolution, 65 : doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01255.x

Claremont M, Williams ST, Barraclough TG, Reid DG (2011) The geographic scale of speciation in a marine snail with high dispersal potential. Journal of Biogeography, 38 (6) : 1016 - 1032. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02482.x

Barco A, Claremont M, Reid D, Houart R, Bouchet P, Williams S, Cruaud C, Couloux A, Oliverio M (2010) A molecular phylogenetic framework for the Muricidae, a diverse family of carnivorous gastropods. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56 (3) : 1025 - 1039. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2010.03.008

Reid D, Dyal P, Williams S (2010) Global diversification of mangrove fauna: a molecular phylogeny of Littoraria (Gastropoda: Littorinidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 55 (1) : 185 - 201. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.09.036

Williams S, Donald K, Spencer H, Nakano T (2010) Molecular systematics of the marine gastropod families Trochidae and Calliostomatidae (Mollusca: Superfamily Trochoidea). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 54 (3) : 783 - 809. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.11.008

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Williams ST (2009) Phylogenetic position of the bivalve family Cyrenoididae-removal from (and further dismantling of) the superfamily Lucinoidea. NAUTILUS, 123 (1) : 9 - 13.

Williams ST, Karube S, Ozawa T (2008) Molecular systematics of Vetigastropoda: Trochidae, Turbinidae and Trochoidea redefined. Zoologica Scripta, 37 (5) : 483 - 506. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2008.00341.x

Reid D, Dyal P, Lozouet P, Glaubrecht M, Williams S (2008) Mudwhelks and mangroves: The evolutionary history of an ecological association (Gastropoda: Potamididae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 47 (2) : 680 - 699. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.01.003

Claremont M, Reid DG, Williams ST (2008) A molecular phylogeny of the Rapaninae and Ergalataxinae (Neogastropoda: Muricidae). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74 (3) : 215 - 221. doi: 10.1093/mollus/eyn005

Glover EA, Taylor JD, Williams ST (2008) Mangrove-assocated lucinid bivalves of the central Indo-West Pacific: review of the "Austriella" group with a new genus and species (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Lucinidae). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 18 : 25 - 40.

Taylor JD, Glover EA, Williams ST (2008) Ancient chemosynthetic bivalves: systematics of Solemyidae from eastern and southern Australia (Mollusca: Bivalvia). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum — Nature Brisbane., In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Davie PJF, Phillips JA (Eds). Memoirs of Queensland Museum - Nature, 54(1) : 75 - 104.

Williams ST (2008) The calcareous operculum as a character for defining subgenera in the marine gastropod genus Turbo. Vita Malacologica, 1 : 1 - 13.

Williams ST, Duda TF (2008) Did tectonic activity stimulate oligo-miocene speciation in the Indo-west Pacific?. Evolution, 62 : 1618 - 1634. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008