Sex, Death and the Apocalypse
Experimental Evolution at Edinburgh: The Collins lab is part of a group of experimentalists who use microbial evolution to understand apoptosis, sex, cooperation, virulence, and the responses of microbes to climate change. We're not nearly as morbid as we sound.
I'm interested in how large populations of small organisms adapt to complex environmental changes. Since that's a bit too vague, I focus on how marine phytoplankton adapt to ocean acidification. I use experimental evolution in the lab to figure out the basic theory involved, and then head off to collaborate with oceanographers to apply it to marine systems.
I also just like microbes, especially the green ones. They're the invisible drivers of ecosystems, they do stuff that can only be described as "very cool", and they're insanely beautiful. How could I resist?
I am broadly interested in the evolution of natural microbial populations and specifically interested in the interplay of migration, mating system, and selection as forces that shape microbial population structure. My background is rooted in population genetics and experimental evolution. My PhD work (University of Pennsylvania) uncovered the sympatric population genetic structures of the closely-related yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. paradoxus sampled in oak woodlands in North America and Eurasia.
Can environment affect host-virus interactions in marine algae?
What traits will selection favour when food is abundant?
I am interested in how climate change will affect adaptation in natural populations. I am particularly interested in phytoplankton communities which are key drivers of global change responsible for half the photosynthetic carbon uptake on the planet and play a key role in determining atmospheric levels of CO2.
In my research I am using six lineages of the marine algae Osterococcus tauri to investigate the effect evolving with a competitor has on adaptation to high CO2.