Experimental evolution of microorganisms

Subject description

Experimental evolution allows to study evolutionary changes within experimental populations, that occur as a consequence of selection regime imposed by the experimenter. Since decades, experimental evolution has allowed us to manipulate microbes and to explore the long-term dynamics in microbial populations. It was used in variety of model microorganisms such as yeasts, fungi, bacteria or phages. It allows to test hypotheses linked to fundamental biological questions: how does multicellularity evolve? How microbes adapt to abiotic or biotic stress, biofilm lifestyle, or changing environment? How parasites adapt to new host and vice versa?

During the course, a PhD student will learn basic principles of microbial experimental evolution in theory and practice. In the theoretical part, the student will familiarize him/herself with recommended readings, and additional selected publication possibly connected to the students PhD topic. The candidate may participate in weekly meeting within the Chair »Journal Club« where he/she can present the selected publication. It will serve as a starting point for the practical part of the course.

During the practical part the student will design an evolution experiment to address research question of his/her choice, which could be also relevant for their PhD thesis. Final topic will be selected in agreement with the lecturer, and if needed, also in agreement with the PhD supervisor.

During the consultation the lecturer will provide feedback on experimental design: type of selection regime, nr of populations, nr of transfers and sampling/archiving frequency, and phenotypic assays to compare the evolved populations/isolates with the ancestor. The student conducts the experiment alone, but additional consultations are possible during and after the experimental part, where lecturer provides feedback on the results. 

The experiment can be conducted in the laboratory of the supervisor or if needed, and after mutual agreement, in the laboratory of the lecturer. 

At the end of the course, the student hands in a short, written report, and presents the data on research seminar.

*the course does not cover genomic analysis of the evolved isolates and mechanisms of molecular evolution

The subject is taught in programs

Objectives and competences

PhD candidate learns about possible applications of experimental evolution and he/she can set-up an evolution experiment (favorably in connection to PhD thesis).

PhD candidate learns how to design and conduct the experiment  and how to critically analyze the data.

Teaching and learning methods

Analysis of research manuscript selected by the student and lecturer, public presentation during research meetings organized by the lecturer.  

Experimental design (student) and feedback (lecturer), adjusted experimental plan (student).

Evolution experiment and results interpretation (student) and discussion with lecturer.

Expected study results

Understanding basic principles of experimental evolution.

Ability to use exp. evolution as a tool to test specific research questions/hypotheses.

Basic sources and literature

Kawecki et al., 2012, Trends in Ecology & Evolution doi: 10.1016/j.tree2012.06.001

Dragoš & Kovács, 2019, Journal of Molecular Biology doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2019.02.005

Dodatna literatura izbrana v povezavi z izbranim eksperimentom /

Additional literature will be selected in connection to  eksperimental design

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E:  dekanat@fe.uni-lj.si T:  01 4768 411