Evolutionary Biology

Isabel Gordo

The area of research of the group led by Isabel Gordo is microbial evolution. The research group combine both theoretical and empirical work with the aim at a better understanding of the major forces that shape variation in bacterial populations.


Present and future projects of the research team include:

  • Study the process of adaptation in the context of ecosystems, specifically the mammalian intestine, in health and in disease conditions.
  • Test theoretical models of adaptive evolution against genotypic and phenotypic data obtained in experimentally adapted bacterial populations.

Determine the the cost of antibiotic resistance and the level of epistatic interactions on fitness between resistant mutations and the underlying mechanisms causing such epistasis.



In this project we aim at determine the speed and mode of adaptation of a common commensal bacteria in its natural environment. We use different strains of mice and strains of E. coli to unravel the dynamics of adaptation in these complex ecosystems. We are interested in understanding the role of host genetics in shaping bacterial adaptation in microbiomes.

Even with the success of antibiotics, the rapid evolution of multiple antibiotic resistances constitutes an increasing health problem. We are studying the importance of genetic interactions in the evolution of antibiotic resistance. In particular the costs of multiple resistance and the rate of mutations which can compensate for resistance costs, need to be better understood in natural microbial ecosystems, which are characterised by a multitude of biotic interactions and rapid evolution. We are using modelling and in vivo experimental evolution to address this issue. 


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