Masatoshi Nei

Masatoshi Nei

Main Content

Emeritus Professor of Biology and Adjunct Professor at Temple University

SERC Bldg, Rm 610J
Temple University
1925 N. 12th St

Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 204-5233

Graduate Programs



  1. Ph.D., Kyoto University, Kyoto Japan, 1959
  2. M.S., Kyoto University, Kyoto Japan, 1955
  3. B.S., Miyazaki University, Miyazaki Japan, 1953

Postdoc Training

  1. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 1960-61
  2. University of California, Davis

Honors and Awards

  1. Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, 2013
  2. Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal, Genetics Society of America, 2006
  3. Barbara Bowman Award, Texas Genetics Society, 2003
  4. International Prize for Biology, Japan Society of Promotion of Science, 2002
  5. Member, National Academy of Sciences, USA, 1997
  6. Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1990
  7. Honorary Member, Japan Society of Human Genetics, 1991
  8. Kihara Prize, Genetics Society of Japan, 1990
  9. Honorary Member, Genetics Society of Japan, 1989
  10. Japan Society of Human Genetics Award, 1977

Research Interests

Molecular and genomic evolution

Statistical Methods for Studying Molecular Evolutionary Genetics

Various statistical methods are required to analyze and interpret data on molecular evolution. One of my research projects focuses on developing such methods. We are working on methods for inferring phylogenetic trees from various molecular data and estimating the number of nucleotide or amino acid substitutions between different sequences. We are also studying statistical methods for identifying different multigene families from genome sequence data.

Evolutionary Studies of Genomic Sequence Data

Genomic sequence data provide important information on the evolution of genes and phenotypic characters. Currently, we are studying the molecular basis of evolution of morphological and physiological characters such as olfaction and other sensory systems in vertebrates and flower development in plants. Our approach is to compile genomic gene sequences from various organisms and to study how the DNA sequences, the number of genes involved, and the interaction of component multigene families have changed in the evolutionary process. The genetic systems we are studying now include the sensory systems and immune systems in vertebrates and the flowering system (MADS-box genes) in plants.

Mutation-Driven Evolution

In the past couple of decades we have studied the evolutionary changes of genomic sequences of various organisms to examine the importance of genic and chromosomal mutations in morphological evolution and speciation. This is a long-term project and is ongoing.


Selected Publications

Zhang, Z., Klein, J., and Nei, M. 2014. Evolution of the Sex-lethal Gene in Insects and Origin of the Sex-Determination System in Drosophila. J. Mol. Evol. 78:50-65.

Nei, M. (2013) Genetic Distance. In: Encyclopedia of Genetics, Academic Press, Amsterdam. pp. 248-250.

Miura, S., Zhang, Z., and Nei, M. 2013. Random fluctuation of selection coefficients and the extent of nucleotide variation in human populations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(26):10676-81.

Nozawa, M., Miura, S., and Nei, M. 2012. Origins and evolution of microRNA genes in plant species. Gen. Biol Evol. 4:230-239.

Nei, M., and M. Nozawa. 2011. Roles of mutation and selection in speciation: From Hugo de Vries to the modern genomic era. Genome Biol. Evol. 3: 812-829.

Tamura, K., D. Peterson, N. Peterson, G. Stecher, M. Nei, and S. Kumar. 2011. MEGA5: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Mol. Biol. Evol. 28: 2731-2739.

Nozawa, M., S. Miura, and M. Nei. 2010. Origins and evolution of microRNAs genes in Drosophila species. Genome Biol. Evol. 2010: 180-189.

Nei, M., Y. Suzuki, and M. Nozawa. 2010. The neutral theory of molecular evolution in the genomic era. Ann. Rev. Genomics Hum. Genet. 11: 12.1-12.25.

Xu, G., H. Ma, M. Nei, and H. Kong. 2009. Evolution of F-box genes in plants: different modes of sequence divergence and their relationships with functional diversification. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 835-840.

Nozawa, M., Y. Suzuki, and M. Nei. 2009. Reliabilities of identifying positive selection by the branch-site and the site-prediction methods. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106(16): 6700-6705.

Nei, M., Y. Niimura, and M. Nozawa. 2008. The evolution of animal chemosensory receptor genes repertoires: roles of chance and necessity. Nat. Rev. Genet. 9: 951-963.

Nozawa, M., Y. Kawahara, and M. Nei. 2007. Genomic drift and copy number variation of sensory receptor genes in humans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 20421-20426.

Nei, M. 2007. The new mutation theory of phenotypic evolution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 12235-12242.

Nei, M. and A. P. Rooney. 2005. Concerted and birth-and-death evolution of multigene families. Annu. Rev. Genet. 39: 121-152.