Research

By understanding the cellular and population-genetic barriers to evolutionary change, we aim to understand how such constraints can be overcome or imposed to expand the evolutionary potential of beneficial species and curtail evolutionary adaptation in harmful species. This knowledge will be applied to pressing issues, including

  • Evolutionary changes of disease-causing organisms.
  • The emergence of antibiotic resistance.
  • The establishment of harmful populations such as blue-green algal blooms.
  • The response to global environmental change.
  • The development of new strategies for biomass production.

We explore cell-based evolution using everything from math to microbes to help us uncover answers.

Our specialties are

  • Microbial evolution experiments.
  • Predictive mathematical theory for evolution.
  • Understanding long-term evolutionary processes from population-level genome sequencing projects.
  • Quantifying the rates at which errors, such as mutations, accumulate within organisms, as well as their causes and consequences.

We have taken on one of the last uncharted fields in evolution: integrating evolutionary biology with cell biology. This sequel to The Origins of Genome Architecture brings evolutionary theory to bear on a diversity of observations on the functional and structural features of cells.

Surprisingly, the details of many cellular traits seem not to be simple products of natural selection, and in some cases can only be explained by an ability of selection to universally make certain kinds of refinements. The chapters provided are freely available for use in evolutionary cell biology courses as well as for more general subject review.

Please feel free to send comments, corrections and suggestions to mlynch11@asu.edu

Outline

Introduction

1. Evolutionary Cell Biology

2. The Origin of Cells

3. The Major Lines of Descent

The Genetic Mechanisms of Evolution

4. The Population-genetic Environment

5. Evolution as a Population-genetic Process

6. Evolution of Cellular Complexity

Basic Cellular Features

7. The Cellular Environment

8. Evolutionary Scaling Laws in Cell Biology