Professor Hansong Ma PhD

Professor Hansong Ma

School of Biosciences
Professor in Genetics

Hansong is a leading expert in mitochondrial genetics. Her group developed tools and systems in Drosophila to study mitochondrial DNA transmission and maintenance.


Hansong studied the host-pathogen interaction for her DPhil at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Prof Robin May. She then joined Prof Patrick O’Farrell’s laboratory as a Human Frontier postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco to explore mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) transmission in Drosophila. In 2017, she started her group as Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. She moved her lab to Birmingham in 2023.

Postgraduate supervision

The lab is recruiting PhD students.

We have a PhD studentship available. Please apply before the 31st May 2023!

Other activities

Mitochondrial DNA transmission, inheritance and repair, Mitochondrial dynamics, mito-nuclear coevolution


Recent publications


Chiang, C-Y, Jezek, J, Mu, P, Di, Y, Klucnika, A, Jaburek, M, Jezek, P & Ma, H 2024, 'Two mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms modulate cardiolipin binding and lead to synthetic lethality', Nature Communications, vol. 15, no. 1, 611.

YZ Li, A, Di, Y, Rathore, S, Chiang, C-Y, Jezek, J & Ma, H 2023, 'Milton assembles large mitochondrial clusters, mitoballs, to sustain spermatogenesis', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 120, no. 34, e2306073120.

Klucnika, A, Mu, P, Jezek, J, McCormack, M, Di, Y, Bradshaw, CR & Ma, H 2023, 'REC drives recombination to repair double-strand breaks in animal mtDNA', Journal of Cell Biology, vol. 222, no. 1, e202201137.

Klucnika, A & Ma, H 2020, 'Mapping and editing animal mitochondrial genomes: can we overcome the challenges?', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

van den Ameele, J, YZ Li, A, Ma, H & Chinnery, P 2020, 'Mitochondrial heteroplasmy beyond the oocyte bottleneck', Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology.

Chiang, AC-Y, McCartney, E, O'Farrell, PH & Ma, H 2019, 'A Genome-wide Screen Reveals that Reducing Mitochondrial DNA Polymerase Can Promote Elimination of Deleterious Mitochondrial Mutations', Current Biology.

Klucnika, A & Ma, H 2019, 'A battle for transmission: the cooperative and selfish animal mitochondrial genomes', Open Biology.

Ma, H & O'Farrell, PH 2016, 'Selfish drive can trump function when animal mitochondrial genomes compete', Nature Genetics.

Ma, H & O'Farrell, PH 2015, 'Selections that isolate recombinant mitochondrial genomes in animals', eLife.

Ma, H, Xu, H & O'Farrell, PH 2014, 'Transmission of mitochondrial mutations and action of purifying selection in Drosophila melanogaster', Nature Genetics.

Hagen, F, Ceresini, PC, Polacheck, I, Ma, H, van Nieuwerburgh, F, Gabaldon, T, Kagan, S, Pursall, ER, Hoogveld, HL, van Iersel, LJJ, Klau, GW, Kelk, SM, Stougie, L, Bartlett, KH, Voelz, K, Pryszcz, LP, Castaneda, E, Lazera, M, Meyer, W, Deforce, D, Meis, JF, May, RC, Klaassen, CHW & Boekhout, T 2013, 'Ancient Dispersal of the Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus gattii from the Amazon Rainforest', PLOS One, vol. 8, no. 8, pp. e71148.,

Voelz, K, Ma, H, Phadke, S, Byrnes, EJ, Zhu, P, Mueller, O, Farrer, RA, Henk, DA, Lewit, Y, Hsueh, Y, Fisher, MC, Idnurm, A, Heitman, J & May, RC 2013, 'Transmission of Hypervirulence Traits via Sexual Reproduction within and between Lineages of the Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus gattii', PLoS Genetics, vol. 9, no. 9, e1003771.,

Byrnes, EJ, Li, W, Lewit, Y, Ma, H, Voelz, K, Ren, P, Carter, DA, Chaturvedi, V, Bildfell, RJ, May, R & Heitman, J 2010, 'Emergence and Pathogenicity of Highly Virulent Cryptococcus gattii Genotypes in the Northwest United States', PLoS pathogens, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. e1000850.

Ma, H & May, RC 2010, 'Mitochondria and the regulation of hypervirulence in the fatal fungal outbreak on Vancouver Island', Virulence, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 197-201.

Ma, H, Hagen, F, Stekel, DJ, Johnston, SA, Sionov, E, Falk, R, Polacheck, I, Boekhout, T & May, RC 2009, 'The fatal fungal outbreak on Vancouver Island is characterized by enhanced intracellular parasitism driven by mitochondrial regulation', National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, vol. 106, no. 31, pp. 12980-12985.

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