Rapid contemporary evolution can have important applied consequences, and particularly so in microbes, whose short generation times and large populations potentiate high evolutionary rates. My lab employs a diversity of study systems and a broad range of approaches including laboratory experimental evolution, surveys of natural communities, analysis of clinical samples, next-generation sequencing, and mathematical modelling to address both pure and applied research questions in coevolution, diversification and adaptation. Current interests include:
- Examining the role for coevolution between species as a driver of adaptation and diversification, and as a force shaping the structure and function of microbial communities
- Integrating coevolution into our understanding of vector-mediated horizontal gene transfer (i.e., conjugation and transduction)
- Understanding the consequences of within-host evolution for the prognosis and treatment of chronic bacterial infections with a focus on Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infections
- Analysing the evolutionary risks of novel antimicrobial therapies with a focus on antimicrobial peptides
- Mowat E, Paterson S, Fothergill JL, Wright EA, Ledson MJ, Walshaw MJ, Brockhurst MA, Winstanley C. 2011. Pseudomonas aeruginosa population diversity and turnover in cystic fibrosis chronic infections. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 183:1674-9.
- Paterson S, Vogwill T, Buckling A, Benmayor R, Spiers AJ, Thomson NR, Quail M, Walker D, Libberton B, Fenton A, Hall N, Brockhurst MA. 2010. Antagonistic coevolution accelerates molecular evolution. Nature. 464:275-8.
We have demonstrated by combining whole-genome next-generation sequencing with experimental evolution that antagonistic coevolution leads to a doubling of the rate of molecular evolution in viruses. We have demonstrated that Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations infecting cystic fibrosis lungs have evolved incredible diversity that is highly dynamic.
- Real-time host-parasite coevolution in natural microbial communities (with Angus Buckling & Mike Boots at Exeter and Steve Paterson at Liverpool). Funding: NERC
- Beyond the Red Queen: are elevated parasite evolutionary rates driven by host shifts? (with Greg Hurst, Steve Paterson and Kayla King at Liverpool). Funding: NERC
- Host-symbiont coevolution: exploring the parasitism-mutualism continuum (with Steve Paterson at Liverpool). Funding: NERC
- The impact of hybridization on functional diversification: experimental evolution with sexual microbes (with Rike Stelkens at Liverpool). Funding: EU
- Genetic diversification and within-host evolution of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis patients (with Craig Winstanley and Steve Paterson at Liverpool). Funding: Wellcome Trust
- Understanding the role of temperate bacteriophages in the ecology of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the cystic fibrosis lung environment (with Craig Winstanley at Liverpool). Funding: Wellcome Trust
- Evolutionary responses to ocean acidification in a free-living protist (with Phill Watts at Liverpool). Funding: NERC
- Experimental evolution of novel genetic codes (with Louise Johnson and Rob Jackson at Reading). Funding: Leverhulme Trust
- Using experimental evolution to develop phage therapy agents for the horse chestnut bleeding canker pathogen Pseudomonas syringae (with Rob Jackson at Reading and Glynn Percival at Bartletts Tree Specialists). Funding: NERC
Dr Ellie Harrison
|Host-symbiont coevolution: exploring the parasitism-mutualism continuum
||Mr Ewan Minter
||Evolutionary responses to ocean acidification in a free-living protist