Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics of Microorganisms

The overall objective in our research is to understand how microbes evolve. We examine both the patterns of microbial evolution as well as the mechanisms responsible for the observed patterns of evolution. We study microbial populations from the environment, human hosts, clinics, and the laboratory to address a variety of issues such as the rates and effects of spontaneous mutations; the persistence and spread of mutations in natural environments and human populations; and the origins of novel traits, strains and species. Our research uses microbiological, molecular, ecological and quantitative genetic tools.

Our research interests include:

  1. The relationship between genetic variation and virulence in human fungal pathogens
  2. The genetic mechanisms that govern mitochondrial inheritance in Cryptococcus neoformans and its implications for the evolution of organelle inheritance in eukaryotes.
  3. Development of biomarkers for efficient identification of human fungal pathogens.
  4. The roles of spontaneous mutations in the evolution of drug resistance, metabolites, diploidy, and life cycles in fungi.
  5. Population genetics of Aspergillus fumigatus and Pseudogymnoascus destructans