I study the interplay of genetic and environmental change in microbial communities using experimental and theoretical approaches. I am especially interested in the rapid evolution of collective behaviors that require many cells to work together.

My research focuses on two different microbes:

  1. The yeast Kluyveromyces lactis (left image below) is an excellent subject for evolution experiments concerning the origin and fate of multi-cellular cooperation.
  2. The toxic bloom-forming algae Prymnesium parvum (right image below) provides an opportunity to study rapid evolution in an important invasive species 'in the wild'.

Cooperation allows the yeast Kluyveromyces lactis to form large multicellular clusters, although these cooperators (stained blue) provide opportunities for 'free-riding' by unrelated lineages (stained red).

Toxic Prymnesium parvum ('golden algae') work together to break down the defenses of larger prey, including this colony of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).