Sophie Breton

Associate Professor,
Université de Montréal

Department of Biology
Institution page


  • Ph.D. Université du Québec à Montréal, 2009
  • M.Sc Université du Québec à Rimousk, 2002
  • B.Sc Université de Montréal,1998


My research program is integrative, using approaches including molecular biology, physiology, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and evolutionary biology to address the following questions: How do new species form? How do organisms adapt to their environment? My team is particularly interested to better understand the role of mitochondria and their genomes in speciation. In this perspective, my research aims at better understand the function, structure, expression, evolution and inheritance of mitochondrial genomes, the co-adaptation of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes and the physiological mechanisms of animal adaptation to environmental conditions.

Prizes and honours

Médaille d'or académique du Gouverneur Général du Canada, 2003

QCBS students

Alizée Debelli

Other (co-)supervisor: Non-membre Annie Angers, Université de Montréal
(Start: 2021)
Caractérisation fonctionnelle de nouvelles protéines d'origine mitochondriale chez la moule bleue Mytilus edulis

Ariane Pouliot-Drouin

(Start: 2023, End: 2024)
Study of a natural heteroplasmy system to better understand its impact on mitochondrial functions.

Previous students (since 2009)

Christelle Leung

(Start: 2012, End: 2016)
Other QCBS (co-)supervisor: Bernard Angers
Variation épigénétique, plasticité phénotypique et le succès écologique des organismes asexués

Émélie Leroux

(Start: 2021, End: 2023)
Mitochondrial DNA methylation in common mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Alyssa Mitchell

Other (co-)supervisor: Don Stewart, Acadia University
(Start: 2013, End: 2015)
Structural & functional characterisation of novel mitochondrial gene products in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida)

Examples of species studied

Venustaconcha ellipsiformis
Mytilus edulis
Neanthes virens
Hediste diversicolor
Ruditapes philippinarum
Modiolus modiolus
Chaetopleura apiculata
Anodonta cygnea


42- Evaluating the utility of the femalespecific mitochondrial f-orf gene for population genetic, phylogeographic and systematic studies in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionida)
Journal Article
Robicheau B M , Chase E E , Hoeh W R , Harris J L , Stewart D T , Breton S ,
2018 PeerJ (Date Added: 2018-06-27)

41- Actively transcribed and expressed atp8 gene in Mytilus edulis mussels
Journal Article
Lubośny M , Przyłucka A , Śmietanka B , Breton S , Burzyński A ,
2018 PeerJ (Date Added: 2018-06-22)

40- Mitochondrial activity in gametes and uniparental inheritance: a comment on 'What can we infer about the origin of sex in early eukaryotes?'
Journal Article
Ghiselli, F, Breton, S, Milani, L
2018 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences (Date Added: 2018-05-07)

39- Distribution and frequency of mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) populations of southwestern Nova Scotia (Canada)
Journal Article
Stewart, D, Sinclair-Waters, M, Rice, A, Bunker, RA, Robicheau, BM, Breton, S
2018 Canadian Journal of Zoology (Date Added: 2018-05-07)

38- Hybrid de novo assembly of the draft genome of the freshwater mussel Venustaconcha ellipsiformis (Bivalvia: Unionida)
Journal Article
Renaut S, Guerra D, Hoeh WR, Stewart DT, Bogan AE, Ghiselli F, Milani L, Passamonti M, Breton S,
2018 Genome Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2018-05-07)

36- Deciphering the Link between Doubly Uniparental Inheritance of mtDNA and Sex Determination in Bivalves: Clues from Comparative Transcriptomics
Journal Article
Capt C , Renaut S , Ghiselli F , Milani L , Johnson N A , Sietman B E , Stewart D T , Breton S ,
2018 Genome Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2018-03-19)

35- Mitochondrial gene order evolution in Mollusca: Inference of the ancestral state from the mtDNA of Chaetopleura apiculata (Polyplacophora, Chaetopleuridae)
Journal Article
Guerra D , Bouvet K , Breton S ,
2018 Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (Date Added: 2018-01-06)

34- The extremely divergent maternally-and paternally-transmitted mitochondrial genomes are co-expressed in somatic tissues of two freshwater mussel species with doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA
Journal Article
Breton S , Bouvet K , Auclair G , Ghazal S , Sietman B E , Johnson N , Bettinazzi S , Stewart D T , Guerra D ,
2017 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2017-08-29)

33- Evolution of sex-dependent mtDNA transmission in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionida)
Journal Article
Guerra D , Plazzi F , Stewart D T , Bogan A E , Hoeh W R , Breton S ,
2017 Scientific Reports (Date Added: 2017-05-26)

32- No evidence of sex-linked heteroplasmy or doubly-uniparental inheritance of mtDNA in five gastropod species
Journal Article
Gusman A , Azuelos C , Breton S ,
2017 Journal of Molluscan Studies (Date Added: 2017-03-20)

31- Sequence motifs associated with paternal transmission of mitochondrial DNA in the horse mussel, Modiolus modiolus (Bivalvia: Mytilidae)
Journal Article
Robicheau B M , Breton S , Stewart D T ,
2017 Gene (Date Added: 2017-02-15)

30- Evidence for extreme sequence divergence between the male- and female-transmitted mitochondrial genomes in the bivalve mollusc, Modiolus modiolus (Mytilidae)
Journal Article
Robicheau B M , Powell A E , Del Bel L , Breton S , Stewart D T ,
2016 Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research (Date Added: 2017-02-15)

29- Pursuing the quest for better understanding the taxonomic distribution of the system of doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA
Journal Article
Gusman, A, Lecomte, S, Stewart, DT, Passamonti, M, Breton, S
2016 PeerJ (Date Added: 2016-12-22)

28- In silico analyses of mitochondrial ORFans in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) provide a framework for future studies of their origin and function
Journal Article
Mitchell, A, Guerra, D, Stewart, D, Breton, S
2016 BMC Genomics (Date Added: 2016-11-28)

27- The human mitochondrial genome may code for more than 13 proteins
Journal Article
Capt, C, Passamonti, M, Breton, S
2016 Mitochondrial DNA. Part A. DNA Mapping, Sequencing, and Analysis (Date Added: 2016-07-06)

26- Facing Environmental Predictability with Different Sources of Epigenetic Variation
Journal Article
Leung C, BS
2016 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2016-06-23)

25- Early replication dynamics of sex-linked mitochondrial DNAs in the doubly uniparental inheritance species Ruditapes philippinarum (Bivalvia Veneridae)
Journal Article
Guerra, D, Ghiselli, F, Milani, L, Breton, S, Passamonti, M
2016 Heredity (Date Added: 2016-02-26)

24- Analysis of the coding potential of the ORF in the control region of the female-transmitted Mytilus mtDNA
Journal Article
Minoiu, I, Burzynski, A, Breton, S
2016 Gene (Date Added: 2016-01-15)

23- Atypical mitochondrial inheritance patterns in eukaryotes
Journal Article
Breton, S, Stewart, DT
2015 Genome / National Research Council Canada = Genome / Conseil National de Recherches Canada (Date Added: 2015-12-15)

22- A resourceful genome: updating the functional repertoire and evolutionary role of animal mitochondrial DNAs
Journal Article
Breton, S, Milani, L, Ghiselli, F, Guerra, D, Stewart, DT, Passamonti, M
2014 Trends in Genetics (Date Added: 2014-12-22)

21- Mitochondrial genes, sex determination and hermaphroditism in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida)
Journal Article
Stewart DT, HW
2013 Evolutionary Biology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Mechanisms (Date Added: 2016-06-20)

20- Structure, transcription, and variability of metazoan mitochondrial genome: Perspectives from an unusual mitochondrial inheritance system
Journal Article
Ghiselli, F, Milani, L, Guerra, D, Chang, PL, Breton, S, Nuzhdin, SV, Passamonti, M
2013 Genome Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

19- Population genetics of sex determination in Mytilus mussels: Reanalyses and a model
Journal Article
Yusa, Y, Breton, S, Hoeh, WR
2013 Journal of Heredity (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

18- A comparative analysis of mitochondrial ORFans: New clues on their origin and role in species with Doubly Uniparental Inheritance of mitochondria
Journal Article
Milani, L, Ghiselli, F, Guerra, D, Breton, S, Passamonti, M
2013 Genome Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

16- Unscrambling genetic information at the RNA level
Journal Article
Moreira, S, Breton, S, Burger, G
2012 Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

15- No effect of sperm interactions or egg homogenate on sperm velocity in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis (Bivalvia: Mytilidae)
Journal Article
Stewart, DT, Jha, M, Breton, S, Randolph Hoeh, W, Blier, PU
2012 Canadian Journal of Zoology (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

14- Evidence for a fourteenth mtDNA-encoded protein in the female-transmitted mtDNA of marine mussels (Bivalvia: Mytilidae)
Journal Article
Breton, S, Ghiselli, F, Passamonti, M, Milani, L, Stewart, DT, Hoeh, WR
2011 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

13- Novel protein genes in animal mtDNA: A new sex determination system in freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida)?
Journal Article
Breton, S, Stewart, DT, Shepardson, S, Trdan, RJ, Bogan, AE, Chapman, EG, Ruminas, AJ, Piontkivska, H, Hoeh, WR
2011 Molecular Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

12- Mitochondrial phylogenomics of the Bivalvia (Mollusca): Searching for the origin and mitogenomic correlates of doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA
Journal Article
Doucet-Beaupré, H, Breton, S, Chapman, EG, Blier, PU, Bogan, AE, Stewart, DT, Hoeh, WR
2010 BMC Evolutionary Biology (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

11- Thermal sensitivity of metabolic enzymes in subarctic and temperate freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida)
Journal Article
Doucet-Beaupré, H, Dubé, C, Breton, S, Pörtner, HO, Blier, PU
2010 Journal of Thermal Biology (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

9- Role-reversal of gender-associated mitochondrial dna affects mitochondrial function in mytilus edulis (bivalvia: mytilidae)
Journal Article
Breton, S, Stewart, DT, Blier, PU
2009 Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

8- Comparative mitochondrial genomics of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) with doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA: Gender-specific open reading frames and putative origins of replication
Journal Article
Breton, S, Beaupré, HD, Stewart, DT, Piontkivska, H, Karmakar, M, Bogan, AE, Blier, PU, Hoeh, WR
2009 Genetics (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

7- Epitoky in Nereis (Neanthes) virens (Polychaeta: Nereididae): A story about sex and death
Journal Article
Hébert Chatelain, , Breton, S, Lemieux, H, Blier, PU
2008 Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

6- The unusual system of doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA: isn't one enough?
Journal Article
Breton, S, Beaupré, HD, Stewart, DT, Hoeh, WR, Blier, PU
2007 Trends in Genetics (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

5- Un système de transmission de l'ADN mitochondrial sexuellement équitable = A sexually fair system of mitochondrial DNA transmission
Journal Article
Breton, S, Beaupré, HD
2007 Médecine Sciences (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

4- Comparative analysis of gender-associated complete mitochondrial genomes in marine mussels (Mytilus spp.)
Journal Article
Breton, S, Burger, G, Stewart, DT, Blier, PU
2006 Genetics (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

3- Functional conservatism in mitochondrial evolution: Insight from hybridization of arctic and brook charrs
Journal Article
Blier, PU, Breton, S, Desrosiers, V, Lemieux, H
2006 Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

2- Morphological variation in Nereis (Neanthes) virens (Polychaeta: Nereididae) populations
Journal Article
Breton, S, Dufresne, F, Desrosiers, G, Blier, P
2004 Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (Date Added: 2014-02-19)

1- Population structure of two northern hemisphere polychaetes, Neanthes virens and Hediste diversicolor (Nereididae), with different life-history traits
Journal Article
Breton, S, Dufresne, F, Desrosiers, G, Blier, PU
2003 Marine Biology (Date Added: 2014-02-19)