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.
We work on the evolution and ecology of microbes adapting to complex environmental changes. Our research focuses on microalgae evolving in the face of elevated carbon dioxide and other environmental changes associated with Ocean Acidification.
There are two parts to this question: how does the biology of the algae themselves affect adaptation (how important is plasticity? How about epigenetics?), and how does the nature of environmental change affect adapation (slow vs. fast change, complex vs. simple change). We use experimental evolution to answer these questions.
Empirical research, informed by modelling, at the interface of ocean acidification research and evolutionary biology, has a lot to offer both fields.
Marine microbes have large population sizes and reproduce quickly. They can evolve in response to ocean acidification. The question is how they will evolve. Experimental evolution is a powerful tool for coming up with general answers that can be applied across taxa.
Organisms don’t just evolve, they evolve in an environment. Ecology matters. Ocean acidification is a complex environmental change, and we aim to understand how and why this complexity matters.
We are funded by: