Organisatieprofiel

Organisational unit profile

The research done in our group operates at the interface of evolutionary theory and systems biology. We are interested in how molecular mechanisms are shaped by selection on the phenotypic characteristics of organisms, and in how those mechanisms influence the rate, direction and outcome of evolution. To address these broad questions we work on different microbial model systems for which detailed information on the mapping between genotype and phenotype is available. These projects investigate

  • the evolution of the chemotaxis network in Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis,
  • metabolic diversification of bacteria in heterogeneous environments (modelling and evolution experiments),
  • the induction of competence in Streptococcus pneumoniae, and
  • the evolution of community-level resistance against antibiotics.

The work on specific model systems is complemented with general theory development, focusing on

  • the differences between the dynamics of clonal and sexual populations evolving on complex adaptive landscapes,
  • the role of pleiotropic trait expresssion in phenotypic evolution,
  • model reduction techniques inspired by evolutionary methods.
We also continue to work with various collaborators on questions in evolutionary ecology, evolutionary genetics and behavioural ecology. Current projects focus on
  • the adaptation of opsin expression in marine and lake populations of the three-spined stickleback,
  • the evolution of helping behaviour in the cooperatively breeding cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher,
  • the rate of evolution of immune-defense genes,
  • evolutionary transitions between genetic sex-determining systems,
  • intralocus sexual conflict,
  • behavioural syndromes in animals.

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