Assistant Professor

Contact Information:

Department of Biological Science
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

6779 2486


Academic Qualification

Postdoctoral research - Center for Reproductive Evolution, Syracuse University, USA
PhD - Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland
MSc, BSc (Hons)- Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Research Areas

Evolutionary biology; sexual selection and speciation

Research Interests

Sexual selection is recognized as a major driving force underlying biodiversity. Comparative studies of closely related species often demonstrate that the traits involved in sexual reproduction are often more divergent than non-sexual traits. From the highly divergent proteins involved in sperm-egg recognition to the complexity in ornaments and courtship displays, sexual traits, on the whole, represent some of the fastest evolving traits in nature.

In our lab, we study reproductive trait evolution: both the microevolutionary processes that drive divergence and the resulting macroevolutionary patterns of biodiversity. How do reproductive traits respond to selection? What is their adaptive significance? What is the underlying genetic variation and fitness consequences associated with variation in trait expression? In order to test our hypotheses and address these questions, we take an integrative approach and utilize a variety of experimental techniques and tools (Field and laboratory studies, quantitative genetics, population genetics and phylogenetics using NGS etc.). Specifically, we are interested in how pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection can result in variation among populations and facilitate the generation and maintenance of barriers to reproduction.

Snapshot of current research

  • Genetic basis of convergent evolution in sexual size dimorphism
  • Population variation in condition dependent sexual trait expression
  • Co-evolution of male and female pre- and postcopulatory reproductive traits
  • Population divergence in courtship behavior and reproductive isolation
  • Polyandry (female remating behavior) and sperm competition
  • Population divergence of seminal fluid proteins

I encourage undergraduate students who are interested in participating in research on reproductive evolution and speciation to contact me.

Selected Publications

  1. Lüpold, S., M.K. Manier, N. Puniamoorthy, C. Schoff, W.T. Starmer, S.H. Lüpold, J.M. Belote and S. Pitnick. 2016. How sexual selection can drive the evolution of costly sperm ornamentation. Nature 533: 535–538.

  2. Rohner, P.T., W.U. Blanckenhorn and N. Puniamoorthy. 2016. Sexual selection on male size drives the evolution of male-biased sexual size dimorphism via the prolongation of male development. Evolution 70: 1189–1199.

  3. Puniamoorthy, N. 2014. Behavioural barriers to reproduction may evolve faster than sexual morphology among populations of a dung fly (Sepsidae). Animal Behaviour 98: 139-148.

  4. Puniamoorthy, N., Schäfer, M.A., Römbke, J., Meier, R. and W.U. Blanckenhorn. 2014. Ivermectin sensitivity is an ancient trait affecting all ecdysozoa but shows phylogenetic clustering among sepsid flies. Evolutionary Applications 7: 548–554.

  5. Blanckenhorn, W.U., R. Gautier, M. Nick, N. Puniamoorthy and M.A. Schäfer. 2014. Stage- and sex-specific heat tolerance in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria. Journal of Thermal Biology 46: 1-9.

  6. Martin, O.Y., N. Puniamoorthy, A. Gubler, C. Wimmer, C. Germann and M.V. Bernasconi. 2013. Infections with the microbe Cardinium in the Dolichopodidae and other Empidoidea (Diptera). Journal of Insect Science 13:47.

  7. Blanckenhorn, W.U., N. Puniamoorthy, A. Scheffczyk and J. Römbke. 2013. Evaluation of eco-toxicological effects of the parasiticide moxidectin in comparison to ivermectin in 11 species of dung flies. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 89: 15-20.

  8. Blanckenhorn, W.U, N. Puniamoorthy, M.A. Schäfer, A. Scheffczyk and J. Römbke. 2013. Standardized laboratory tests with 21 species of temperate and tropical sepsid flies confirm their suitability as bioassays of pharmaceutical residues (ivermectin) in cattle dung. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 89: 21-28.

  9. Martin, O.Y., N. Puniamoorthy, A. Gubler, C. Wimmer and M.V. Bernasconi. 2013. Infections with Wolbachia, Spiroplasma, and Rickettsia in the Dolichopodidae and other Empidoidea. Infection, Genetics and Evolution  13:317-330.

  10. Puniamoorthy, N., W.U. Blanckenhorn and M.A. Schäfer. 2012. Differential investment in pre- versus post-copulatory sexual selection reinforces a cross-continental reversal of sexual size dimorphism in Sepsis punctum (Diptera: Sepsidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25: 2253–2263.

  11.  Puniamoorthy, N., M. A. Schäfer and W. U. Blanckenhorn. 2012. Sexual selection accounts for the geographic reversal of sexual size dimorphism in the dung fly, Sepsis punctum. Evolution 66: 2117–2126.

  12.  Puniamoorthy, N., Kotrba, M. and R. Meier. 2010. Unlocking the ‘Black Box’: Female genitalia in Sepsidae (Diptera) evolves fast and is specific to most species. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:275.

  13. Puniamoorthy,N., M.Rifqi, D. Tan, Meier, R. 2009. From Kissing to Belly Stridulation: Comparative Analysis Reveals Surprising Diversity, Rapid Evolution, and much Homoplasy in the Mating Behavior of 27 Species of Sepsid Flies (Diptera: Sepsidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 22: 2146-2156.

  14.  Puniamoorthy, N., Su, K.F.Y., Meier, R. 2008. Bending for love: losses and gains of sexual dimorphisms are strictly correlated with changes in the mounting position of sepsid flies (Sepsidae: Diptera). BMC Evolutionary Biology 8:155. 

  15. Puniamoorthy, N., Jeevanandam, J., Kutty, S. 2008. Give south Indian authors their true names. Nature 452: 530.