The Systems Genetics group was co-founded by Drs McGregor and Rhode as a trans-disciplinary research enterprise to investigate complex biological phenomena with genetic underpinnings by integrating questions and methods of genetics with those of systems biology. In brief the group aims to understand the various genetic and environmental factors, as well as the interaction between these, to explain biological variation in form and function. The systems approach in particular seeks to elucidate how the flow of biological information from the genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome to the broader phenome are interconnected and related as a singular biological system within the ecological and evolutionary context of organisms. As such, Dr Rhode has a primary interest in how evolutionary processes (e.g. the functional effects of selection, and migratory- and mating patterns) shape genomic diversity and by implication the genetic background of populations and the architecture of complex traits within and between populations. Whereas, Dr Rhode analyses the population, Dr McGregor focuses on individuals and why individuals within a population exhibits differential phenotypic expressions. He specifically looks at how heritable and non-heritable factors influence phenotypic development. By combining the two approaches, and by placing individual's genotypes into their evolutionary context, it is possible to gain a more refined understanding of the functionality and relationship between genotype and phenotype within a complex biological system. At present, the group's “flagship" project is investigating how the unique and complex history of the South African human population that consists of a “melting-pot" of ethnic and cultural groupings influence the development of phenotypes in complex traits, using mental health disorders as a model. Other potential projects include investigating the effects of domestication on novel animal species and complex traits of economic importance in biotechnological applications for bioremediation and aquaculture.