Melania Cristescu

Associate Professor,
McGill University

Department of Biology


  • PhD, Evolutionary Biology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada (March 2004).
  • MSc, Ecology, Ovidius University of Constanta, Constanta, Romania (1996)
  • BSc, (Honours), Biology, Ovidius University of Constanta, Constanta, Romania. 1995


Many invasive aquatic species are undergoing rapid range expansions accompanied by dramatic habitat transitions (e.g. marine to freshwater, ephemeral ponds to permanent lakes). These invasive taxa present outstanding opportunities to study the genetic mechanisms underlying the adaptive responses of organisms to novel environments and stresses. My study organisms involve several species of Ponto-Caspian crustaceans (endemic to the Black and Caspian Seas) that have recently colonized the Great Lakes, invasive tunicates, as well as the waterflea Daphnia - an emerging model system for ecological genomics.

We employ phylogenetic approaches to contrast historical and contemporary patterns of invasion among Ponto-Caspian crustaceans and use genomic tools for Daphnia pulex to study the genetic mechanisms underlying traits involved in adaptation to new environments.

QCBS students

Alessandra Loria

Postdoctoral fellow
(Start: 2021, End: 2021)
Other QCBS (co-)supervisor: Andrew Gonzalez
The interplay between environmental change and biodiversity

Marie-Eve Monchamp

Postdoctoral fellow
(Start: 2019)
Other QCBS (co-)supervisor: Irene Gregory-Eaves
Metagenomic analysis of metazoan diversity across Canadian lakes
Personal page

Previous students (since 2009)

Joanne Littlefair

Postdoctoral fellow
(Start: 2016, End: 2018)
Metabarcoding to assess the anthropogenic impacts on fish communities
Personal page

James Bull

(Start: 2014, End: 2017)
The impact of environmental stressors on mutation rates

Jullien Flynn

(Start: 2015, End: 2016)
Mutation accumulation in asexual Daphnia pulex
Personal page

Guang Zhang

Other (co-)supervisor: Cathryn Abbott
(Start: 2014, End: 2016)
Detection of Aquatic Invasive Species and Biodiversity Assessment in Canadian ports

Examples of species studied

Mnemiopsis leidyi
Daphnia pulex
Leptodora kindtii
Ciona intestinalis
Polyphemus pediculus
Caenorhabditis elegans
Echinogammarus ischnus
Cercopagis pengoi
Botrylloides violaceus


87- Environmental RNA: A Revolution in Ecological Resolution?
Yates M C , Derry A M , Cristescu M E ,
2021 Trends in Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2021-04-02)

86- Speciation in Daphnia
Chin T A , Cristescu M E ,
2021 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2021-03-14)

85- Landscape modification and nutrient-driven instability at a distance
McCann K S , Cazelles K , MacDougall A S , Fussmann G F , Bieg C , Cristescu M , Fryxell J M , Gellner G , Lapointe B , Gonzalez A ,
2020 Ecology Letters (Date Added: 2020-12-04)

84- Freshwater zooplankton metapopulations and metacommunities respond differently to environmental and spatial variation
Martin G K , Beisner B E , Chain F J J , Cristescu M E , Giorgio P A , Derry A M ,
2020 Ecology (Date Added: 2020-12-04)

83- Thermal stratification and fish thermal preference explain vertical eDNA distributions in lakes
Littlefair J E , Hrenchuk L E , Blanchfield P J , Rennie M D , Cristescu M E ,
2020 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2020-09-20)

82- The relationship between eDNA particle concentration and organism abundance in nature is strengthened by allometric scaling
Yates M C , Glaser D M , Post J R , Cristescu M E , Fraser D J , Derry A M ,
2020 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2020-08-06)

81- Metal exposure causes rDNA copy number to fluctuate in mutation accumulation lines of Daphnia pulex
Harvey E F , Cristescu M E , Dale J , Hunter H , Randall C , Crease T J ,
2020 Aquatic Toxicology (Date Added: 2020-07-14)

80- Alternative splicing is highly variable among Daphnia pulex lineages in response to acute copper exposure
Suresh S , Crease T J , Cristescu M E , Chain F J J ,
2020 BMC genomics (Date Added: 2020-07-09)

79- Breaking ecological barriers: Anthropogenic disturbance leads to habitat transitions, hybridization, and high genetic diversity
Millette K L , Gonzalez A , Cristescu M E ,
2020 Science of the Total Environment (Date Added: 2020-06-22)

78- Horizon scan of conservation issues for inland waters in Canada
Pérez-Jvostov F , Sutherland W J , Barrett R D , Brown C A , Cardille J A , Cooke S J , Cristescu M E , St-Gelais N F , Fussmann G F , Griffiths K , Hendry A P , Lapointe N W , Nyboer E A , Pentland R L , Reid A J , Ricciardi A , Sunday J M , Gregory-Eaves I ,
2020 Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Date Added: 2020-05-09)

77- Release and degradation of environmental DNA and RNA in a marine system
Wood S A , Biessy L , Latchford J L , Zaiko A , von Ammon U , Audrezet F , Cristescu M E , Pochon X ,
2019 Science of the Total Environment (Date Added: 2019-12-14)

76- The evolution of reproductive isolation in Daphnia
Chin T A , Cáceres C E , Cristescu M E ,
2019 BMC evolutionary biology (Date Added: 2019-12-08)

75- Mixed evidence for adaptation to environmental pollution
Loria A , Cristescu M E , Gonzalez A ,
2019 Evolutionary Applications (Date Added: 2019-08-31)

74- Benefits of increased colonist quantity and genetic diversity for colonization depend on colonist identity
Sinclair J S , Arnott S E , Millette K L , Cristescu M E ,
2019 Oikos (Date Added: 2019-08-25)

73- Trophic structure modulates community rescue following acidification
Bell, G, Fugère, V, Barrett, R, Beisner, B, Cristescu, M, Fussmann, G, Shapiro, J, Gonzalez, A
2019 Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Date Added: 2019-06-25)

72- Can Environmental RNA Revolutionize Biodiversity Science?
Cristescu M E ,
2019 Trends in Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2019-06-09)

71- Variation in transcriptional responses to copper exposure across Daphnia pulex lineages
Chain F J , Finlayson S , Crease T , Cristescu M ,
2019 Aquatic Toxicology (Date Added: 2019-03-08)

70- Accelerated rates of large-scale mutations in the presence of copper and nickel
Chain F J , Flynn J M , Bull J K , Cristescu M E ,
2019 Genome Research (Date Added: 2019-01-17)

69- Fitness and Genomic Consequences of Chronic Exposure to Low Levels of Copper and Nickel in Daphnia pulex Mutation Accumulation Lines
Bull J K , Flynn J M , Chain F J J , Cristescu M E ,
2019 G3 (Bethesda, Md.) (Date Added: 2019-01-17)

68- Metabarcoding using multiplexed markers increases species detection in complex zooplankton communities
Zhang G K , Chain F J J , Abbott C L , Cristescu M E ,
2018 Evolutionary Applications (Date Added: 2018-09-26)

67- Proteomic Profile of Daphnia pulex using Data-Independent Acquisition Mass Spectrometry and Ion Mobility Separation
Steevensz A , Gombar R , Vergilino R , Cristescu M E , Vacratsis P O ,
2018 Proteomics (Date Added: 2018-09-05)

66- Bioinformatics for Biomonitoring: Species Detection and Diversity Estimates Across Next-Generation Sequencing Platforms
Eckert I M , Littlefair J E , Zhang G K , Chain F J , Crease T J , Cristescu M E ,
2018 Advances in Ecological Research (Date Added: 2018-07-30)

65- Optimization and performance testing of a sequence processing pipeline applied to detection of nonindigenous species
Scott R , Zhan A , Brown E A , Chain F J J , Cristescu M E , Gras R , MacIsaac H J ,
2018 Evolutionary Applications (Date Added: 2018-02-27)

64- An Individual-Based Modeling Approach to Investigate Sympatric Speciation via Specialized Resource Usage
Pour, MK, Bandehbahman, S, Gras, R, Cristescu, ME
2017 Open Journal of Ecology (Date Added: 2018-05-10)

63- Selection constrains high rates of tandem repetitive DNA mutation in Daphnia pulex
Flynn J M , Caldas I , Cristescu M E , Clark A G ,
2017 Genetics (Date Added: 2017-10-16)

62- Spontaneous mutation accumulation in daphnia pulex in selection-free vs. competitive environments
Flynn J M , Chain F J , Schoen D J , Cristescu M E ,
2017 Molecular Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2017-03-21)

61- Identification of species adulteration in traded medicinal plant raw drugs using DNA barcoding
Nithaniyal S , Vassou S L , Poovitha S , Raju B , Parani M , Cristescu M ,
2017 Genome (Date Added: 2017-02-10)

60- Identification of the genomic mutation in Epha4rb-2J/rb-2Jmice
Mohd-Zin S W , Abdullah N , Abdullah A , Greene N D , Cheah P , Ling K , Yusof H , Marwan A I , Williams S M , York K T , Ahmad-Annuar A , Abdul-Aziz N M ,
2016 Genome (Date Added: 2017-12-17)

59- Variance in disease risk: rural populations and genetic diversity
Jenkins, WD, Lipka, AE, Fogleman, AJ, Delfino, KR, Malhi, RS, Hendricks, B
2016 Genome (Date Added: 2016-11-24)

58- Effect of shipping traffic on biofouling invasion success at population and community levels
Lacoursière-Roussel, A, Bock, DG, Cristescu, ME, Guichard, F, McKindsey, CW
2016 Biological Invasions (Date Added: 2016-08-29)

57- Population attenuation in zooplankton communities during transoceanic transfer in ballast water
Ghabooli, S, Zhan, A, Paolucci, E, Hernandez, MR, Briski, E, Cristescu, ME, MacIsaac, HJ
2016 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2016-08-09)

56- Early detection of aquatic invaders using metabarcoding reveals a high number of non-indigenous species in Canadian ports
Brown, EA, Chain, FJJ, Zhan, A, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME, Lowe, A
2016 Diversity and Distributions (Date Added: 2016-08-04)

54- Metabarcoding reveals strong spatial structure and temporal turnover of zooplankton communities among marine and freshwater ports
Chain, FJJ, Brown, EA, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME, Cowie, R
2016 Diversity and Distributions (Date Added: 2016-02-22)

53- The contribution of Nicolae Botnariuc to evolutionary biology using systems theory
Danielopol, DL, Cristescu, ME
2015 Genome (Date Added: 2016-06-27)

52- Speciation without Pre-Defined Fitness Functions
Gras, R, Golestani, A, Hendry, AP, Cristescu, ME
2015 PloS one (Date Added: 2015-11-10)

51- Synergistic interactions of biotic and abiotic environmental stressors on gene expression
Altshuler, I, McLeod, AM, Colbourne, JK, Yan, ND, Cristescu, ME
2015 Genome / National Research Council Canada = Genome / Conseil National de Recherches Canada (Date Added: 2015-07-24)

50- Divergence thresholds and divergent biodiversity estimates: can metabarcoding reliably describe zooplankton communities?
Brown, EA, Chain, FJJ, Crease, TJ, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2015 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2015-05-27)

49- Toward accurate molecular identification of species in complex environmental samples: testing the performance of sequence filtering and clustering methods
Flynn, JM, Brown, EA, Chain, FJJ, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2015 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2015-05-27)

48- Genetic reconstructions of invasion history
Cristescu, ME
2015 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2015-05-11)

46- Gene Expression Variation in Duplicate Lactate dehydrogenase Genes: Do Ecological Species Show Distinct Responses?
Cristescu, ME, Demiri, B, Altshuler, I, Crease, TJ
2014 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2014-08-18)

45- Reproducibility of pyrosequencing data for biodiversity assessment in complex communities
Zhan, A, He, S, Brown, EA, Chain, FJJ, Therriault, TW, Abbott, CL, Heath, DD, Cristescu, ME, MacIsaac, HJ
2014 Methods in Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2014-07-21)

44- Morphological and genetic variability in an alien invasive mussel across an environmental gradient in South America
Paolucci, EM, Sardiña, P, Sylvester, F, Perepelizin, PV, Zhan, A, Ghabooli, S, Cristescu, ME, Oliveira, MD, MacIsaac, HJ
2014 Limnology and Oceanography (Date Added: 2014-07-08)

43- Invasion Pathway of the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Mediterranean Sea
Ghabooli, S, Shiganova, TA, Briski, E, Piraino, S, Fuentes, V, Thibault-Botha, D, Angel, DL, Cristescu, ME, MacIsaac, HJ
2013 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2014-04-15)

42- Speciation patterns and processes in the zooplankton of the ancient lakes of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia
Vaillant, JJ, Bock, DG, Haffner, GD, Cristescu, ME
2013 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2013-11-18)

41- Genetic Diversity in Introduced Golden Mussel Populations Corresponds to Vector Activity
Ghabooli, S, Zhan, A, Sardiña, P, Paolucci, E, Sylvester, F, Perepelizin, PV, Briski, E, Cristescu, ME, MacIsaac, HJ
2013 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

40- The role of hybridization in the origin and spread of asexuality in Daphnia
Xu, S, Innes, DJ, Lynch, M, Cristescu, ME
2013 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

39- High sensitivity of 454 pyrosequencing for detection of rare species in aquatic communities
Zhan, A, Hulák, M, Sylvester, F, Huang, X, Adebayo, AA, Abbott, CL, Adamowicz, SJ, Heath, DD, Cristescu, ME, Macisaac, HJ
2013 Methods in Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

38- Complex genetic patterns in closely related colonizing invasive species
Zhan A, DJ
2012 Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2016-06-27)

37- The Evolutionary History of Sarco(endo)plasmic Calcium ATPase (SERCA)
Altshuler, I, Vaillant, JJ, Xu, S, Cristescu, ME
2012 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

36- Multilocus genetic analyses differentiate between widespread and spatially restricted cryptic species in a model ascidian.
Bock, DG, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2012 Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

35- Speciation with gene flow and the genetics of habitat transitions
Cristescu, ME, Constantin, A, Bock, DG, CÚceres, CE, Crease, TJ
2012 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

34- Speciation with gene flow in a heterogeneous virtual world: Can physical obstacles accelerate speciation?
Golestani, A, Gras, R, Cristescu, M
2012 Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

33- High mutation rates in the mitochondrial genomes of Daphnia pulex
Xu, S, Schaack, S, Seyfert, A, Choi, E, Lynch, M, Cristescu, ME
2012 Molecular Biology and Evolution (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

32- Scale-dependent post-establishment spread and genetic diversity in an invading mollusc in South America
Zhan, A, Perepelizin, PV, Ghabooli, S, Paolucci, E, Sylvester, F, Sardiña, P, Cristescu, ME, Macisaac, HJ
2012 Diversity and Distributions (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

31- Disentangling invasion processes in a dynamic shipping-boating network
Lacoursière-Roussel, A, Bock, DG, Cristescu, ME, Guichard, F, Girard, P, Legendre, P, McKindsey, CW
2012 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2012-09-14)

29- An integrated multi-disciplinary approach for studying multiple stressors in freshwater ecosystems: Daphnia as a model organism
Altshuler, I, Demiri, B, Xu, S, Constantin, A, Yan, ND, Cristescu, ME
2011 Integrative and Comparative Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

28- Looking at both sides of the invasion: Patterns of colonization in the violet tunicate Botrylloides violaceus
Bock, DG, Zhan, A, Lejeusne, C, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2011 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

27- Use of DNA barcoding to detect invertebrate invasive species from diapausing eggs
Briski, E, Cristescu, ME, Bailey, SA, MacIsaac, HJ
2011 Biological Invasions (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

26- Evolutionary factors affecting Lactate dehydrogenase A and B variation in the Daphnia pulex species complex
Crease, TJ, Floyd, R, Cristescu, ME, Innes, D
2011 BMC Evolutionary Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

25- Multiple introductions and invasion pathways for the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in Eurasia
Ghabooli, S, Shiganova, TA, Zhan, A, Cristescu, ME, Eghtesadi-Araghi, P, MacIsaac, HJ
2011 Biological Invasions (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

24- Comparative phylogeography of two colonial ascidians reveals contrasting invasion histories in North America
Lejeusne, C, Bock, DG, Therriault, TW, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2011 Biological Invasions (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

22- The ancient lakes of indonesia: Towards integrated research on speciation
Vaillant, JJ, Haffner, GD, Cristescu, ME
2011 Integrative and Comparative Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

21- Permanent Genetic Resources added to Molecular Ecology Resources Database 1 August 2009-30 September 2009
Abdoullaye, D, Acevedo, I, Adebayo, AA, Behrmann-Godel, J, Benjamin, RC, Bock, DG, Born, C, Brouat, C, Caccone, A, Cao, L-Z, Casado-AmezÚa, P, CatanÉo, J, Correa-Ramirez, MM, Cristescu, ME, Dobigny, G, Egbosimba, EE, Etchberger, LK, Fan, B, Fields, PD, Forcioli, D, Furla, P, Garcia De Leon, FJ, GarcÍa-JimÉnez, R, Gauthier, P, Gergs, R, GonzÁlez, C, Granjon, L, GutiÉrrez-RodrÍguez, C, Havill, NP, Helsen, P, Hether, TD, Hoffman, EA, Hu, X, Ingvarsson, PK, Ishizaki, S, Ji, H, Ji, XS, Jimenez, ML, Kapil, R, Karban, R, Keller, SR, Kubota, S, Li, S, Li, W, Lim, DD, Lin, H, Liu, X, Luo, Y, MacHordom, A, Martin, AP, Matthysen, E, Mazzella, MN, McGeoch, MA, Meng, Z, Nishizawa, M, O'Brien, P, Ohara, M, Ornelas, JF, Ortu, MF, Pedersen, AB, Preston, L, Ren, Q, Rothhaupt, K-O, Sackett, LC, Sang, Q, Sawyer, GM, Shiojiri, K, Taylor, DR, Van Dongen, S, Van Vuuren, BJ, Vandewoestijne, S, Wang, H, Wang, JT, Wang, L, Xu, X-L, Yang, G, Yang, Y, Zeng, YQ, Zhang, Q-W, Zhang, Y, Zhao, Y, Zhou, Y
2010 Molecular Ecology Resources (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

20- Efficacy of 'saltwater flushing' in protecting the Great Lakes from biological invasions by invertebrate eggs in ships' ballast sediment
Briski, E, Bailey, SA, Cristescu, ME, Macisaac, HJ
2010 Freshwater Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

19- Ancient lakes revisited: From the ecology to the genetics of speciation
Cristescu, ME, Adamowicz, SJ, Vaillant, JJ, Haffner, DG
2010 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

18- Invasion genetics of the Ciona intestinalis species complex: From regional endemism to global homogeneity
Zhan, A, MacIsaac, HJ, Cristescu, ME
2010 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

15- D- and L-lactate dehydrogenases during invertebrate evolution
Cristescu, ME, Innes, DJ, Stillman, JH, Crease, TJ
2008 BMC Evolutionary Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

14- Comparative phylogeography of marine cladocerans
Durbin, A, Hebert, PDN, Cristescu, MEA
2008 Marine Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

13- The rate and spectrum of microsatellite mutation in Caenorhabditis elegans and Daphnia pulex
Seyfert, AL, Cristescu, MEA, Frisse, L, Schaack, S, Thomas, WK, Lynch, M
2008 Genetics (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

12- Erratum: Ameiotic recombination in asexual lineages of Daphnia (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (December 5, 2006) 103, 49 (18638-18643) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0606435103)
Omilian, AR, Cristescu, MEA, Dudycha, JL, Lynch, M
2007 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

11- A microsatellite-based genetic linkage map of the waterflea, Daphnia pulex: On the prospect of crustacean genomics
Cristescu, MEA, Colbourne, JK, Radivojac, J, Lynch, M
2006 Genomics (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

10- Probing the relationships of the branchiopod crustaceans
deWaard, JR, Sacherova, V, Cristescu, MEA, Remigio, EA, Crease, TJ, Hebert, PDN
2006 Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

9- Ameiotic recombination in asexual lineages of Daphnia
Omilian, AR, Cristescu, MEA, Dudycha, JL, Lynch, M
2006 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

8- The "Crustacean Seas" - An evolutionary perspective on the Ponto-Caspian peracarids
Cristescu, MEA, Hebert, PDN
2005 Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

7- Dispersal of the Ponto-Caspian amphipod Echinogammarus ischnus: Invasion waves from the Pleistocene to the present
Cristescu, MEA, Witt, JDS, Grigorovich, IA, Hebert, PDN, MacIsaac, HJ
2004 Heredity (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

6- Phylogeography of Ponto-Caspian crustaceans: A benthic-planktonic comparison
Cristescu, MEA, Hebert, PDN, Onciu, TM
2003 Molecular Ecology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

5- Phylogeny and adaptive radiation in the Onychopoda (Crustacea, Cladocera): Evidence from multiple gene sequences
Cristescu, MEA, Hebert, PDN
2002 Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

4- Taxonomic resolution of the genus Bythotrephes Leydig using molecular markers and re-evaluation of its global distribution
Therriault, TW, Grigorovich, IA, Cristescu, ME, Ketelaars, HAM, Viljanen, M, Heath, DD, Macisaac, HJ
2002 Diversity and Distributions (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

3- Genetic perspectives on invasions: The case of the Cladocera
Hebert, PDN, Cristescu, MEA
2002 Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

2- Distribution, fecundity, and genetics of Cercopagis pengoi (Ostroumov) (Crustacea, Cladocera) in Lake Ontario
Makarewicz, JC, Grigorovich, IA, Mills, E, Damaske, E, Cristescu, ME, Pearsall, W, LaVoie, MJ, Keats, R, Rudstam, L, Hebert, P, Halbritter, H, Kelly, T, Matkovich, C, MacIsaac, HJ
2001 Journal of Great Lakes Research (Date Added: 2013-09-17)

1- An invasion history for Cercopagis pengoi based on mitochondrial gene sequences
Cristescu, MEA, Hebert, PDN, Witt, JDS, MacIsaac, HJ, Grigorovich, IA
2001 Limnology and Oceanography (Date Added: 2013-09-17)