Evolution within microbial communities
Opportunities

Current openings

 

PhD at University of York with Ville Friman and me, starting October 2018

 

The role of symbiont community diversity for the rhizobia-legume symbiosis

 

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There are always other funding sources so just contact me if you think you might be interested in other projects!

about the lab
All species exist within a complex network of biotic interactions. Evolutionary changes within one pairwise species interaction can cascade through interaction networks, altering the evolutionary trajectory of connected species. The partnership between rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria) and legumes is an intimate and globally important relationship. Rhizobia facilitate the flow of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the plant, while plants provide bacteria with nutrients and shelter in the form of root nodules. However, rhizobia also live as free-living bacteria in the soil where they face interactions with a diverse microbial community. Key members of these soil communities are the temperate phages – bacterial viruses which can play numerous roles in bacterial populations as viral predators, as agents of horizontal gene transfer and as weapons of bacterial warfare. Collaborators: Peter Young (York), Ville Friman (York), Phil Poole (Oxford)

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evolution in Rhizobial communites

Conjugative plasmids play a major role in bacterial evolution as vectors for horizontal gene transfer. However acquiring a new plasmid can be highly disruptive to the bacterial cell resulting in strong selective pressure to either loose the plasmid or ameliorate its cost. In this work we have demonstrated that compensatory evolution to alliviate the cost of plasmid carriage is a major force underlying bacteria-plasmid relationships, helping to explain their ubiquity in the environment. These changes can have important consequences for the wider community, affecting coevolutionary interactions with other partners and the rate of gene transfer in other species. Current work is focused on understanding the mechanisms which underly these compensatory mutations and the impact of these evolutionary processes in more complex communities.
Collaborators: Mike Brockhurst (Sheffield), Steve Paterson (Liverpool), Andrew Spiers (Abertay), Jamie Hall (Sheffield), Calvin Dytham (York)

bacteria plasmid coevolution

projects / opportunities / contact

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of microbial communities, particularly in the interactions between bacteria and the mobile genetic elements that infect them. Elements such as plasmids and phages play key roles in these communities; acting not only as agents of horizontal gene transfer by carrying with them bacterial genes when they move between hosts, but also as parasites as they exploit their bacterial hosts for their own replication. In my work I explore how coevolution shapes these interactions and how they, in turn, impact the wider community. I am currently a NERC Independant Fellow at the P3 institute, University of Sheffield.

projects

 click for full publication list

ellie.harrison@sheffield.ac.uk

 

 

Arthur Willis Enironment Center

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

University of Sheffield

1 Maxfield Avenue

Sheffield

SL10 1AE

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 Evolution within microbial communities
about the lab I am interested in the ecology and evolution of microbial communities, particularly in the interactions between bacteria and the mobile genetic elements that infect them. Elements such as plasmids and phages play key roles in these communities; acting not only as agents of horizontal gene transfer by carrying with them bacterial genes when they move between hosts, but also as parasites as they exploit their bacterial hosts for their own replication. In my work I explore how coevolution shapes these interactions and how they, in turn, impact the wider community. I am currently a NERC Independant Fellow at the P3 institute, University of Sheffield.
Opportunities
All species exist within a complex network of biotic interactions. Evolutionary changes within one pairwise species interaction can cascade through interaction networks, altering the evolutionary trajectory of connected species. The partnership between rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria) and legumes is an intimate and globally important relationship. Rhizobia facilitate the flow of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the plant, while plants provide bacteria with nutrients and shelter in the form of root nodules. However, rhizobia also live as free-living bacteria in the soil where they face interactions with a diverse microbial community. Key members of these soil communities are the temperate phages – bacterial viruses which can play numerous roles in bacterial populations as viral predators, as agents of horizontal gene transfer and as weapons of bacterial warfare. Collaborators: Peter Young (York), Ville Friman (York), Phil Poole (Oxford)
Conjugative plasmids play a major role in bacterial evolution as vectors for horizontal gene transfer. However acquiring a new plasmid can be highly disruptive to the bacterial cell resulting in strong selective pressure to either loose the plasmid or ameliorate its cost. In this work we have demonstrated that compensatory evolution to alliviate the cost of plasmid carriage is a major force underlying bacteria-plasmid relationships, helping to explain their ubiquity in the environment. These changes can have important consequences for the wider community, affecting coevolutionary interactions with other partners and the rate of gene transfer in other species. Current work is focused on understanding the mechanisms which underly these compensatory mutations and the impact of these evolutionary processes in more complex communities.
Collaborators: Mike Brockhurst (Sheffield), Steve Paterson (Liverpool), Andrew Spiers (Abertay), Jamie Hall (Sheffield), Calvin Dytham (York)
 Evolution within microbial communities
about the lab I am interested in the ecology and evolution of microbial communities, particularly in the interactions between bacteria and the mobile genetic elements that infect them. Elements such as plasmids and phages play key roles in these communities; acting not only as agents of horizontal gene transfer by carrying with them bacterial genes when they move between hosts, but also as parasites as they exploit their bacterial hosts for their own replication. In my work I explore how coevolution shapes these interactions and how they, in turn, impact the wider community. I am currently a NERC Independant Fellow at the P3 institute, University of Sheffield.
All species exist within a complex network of biotic interactions. Evolutionary changes within one pairwise species interaction can cascade through interaction networks, altering the evolutionary trajectory of connected species. The partnership between rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria) and legumes is an intimate and globally important relationship. Rhizobia facilitate the flow of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the plant, while plants provide bacteria with nutrients and shelter in the form of root nodules. However, rhizobia also live as free-living bacteria in the soil where they face interactions with a diverse microbial community. Key members of these soil communities are the temperate phages – bacterial viruses which can play numerous roles in bacterial populations as viral predators, as agents of horizontal gene transfer and as weapons of bacterial warfare. Collaborators: Peter Young (York), Ville Friman (York), Phil Poole (Oxford)
Conjugative plasmids play a major role in bacterial evolution as vectors for horizontal gene transfer. However acquiring a new plasmid can be highly disruptive to the bacterial cell resulting in strong selective pressure to either loose the plasmid or ameliorate its cost. In this work we have demonstrated that compensatory evolution to alliviate the cost of plasmid carriage is a major force underlying bacteria-plasmid relationships, helping to explain their ubiquity in the environment. These changes can have important consequences for the wider community, affecting coevolutionary interactions with other partners and the rate of gene transfer in other species. Current work is focused on understanding the mechanisms which underly these compensatory mutations and the impact of these evolutionary processes in more complex communities. Collaborators: Mike Brockhurst (Sheffield), Steve Paterson (Liverpool), Andrew Spiers (Abertay), Jamie Hall (Sheffield), Calvin Dytham (York)
Opportunities