We currently have three main projects.

We address basic questions in evolution and use Saccharomyces yeasts as a model. First, we are interested in biofilms— cooperative microbial communities attached to a surface and with specialization among cell types. Biofilms are evolutionarily stable and represent the oldest form of fossilized life. We are interested in the social dynamics within biofilms and whether or not natural S. cerevisiae strains exhibit different behavioral strategies. Second, we are interested in the genetic basis of biofilm formation in yeast. We are using experimental evolution and quantitative trait analysis to determine how the ability to form biofilms evolves. Finally, we are interested in S. paradoxus, the sister species of the biomedical model, S. cerevisiae. We are using natural populations to study the process of speciation.

A yeast strain forming a biofilm colony. The left panel is under regular light conditions; the right side is using fluorescence microscopy (this strain expresses mCherry). The video is associated with the following journal article: doi: 10.1002/ece3.4082