How many protein-coding genes are there in bacterial cells?
How did they get there? What is the evolutionary history of young genes?
My current research explores the unexpected complexity of the bacterial genome, the functional products it encodes, and their fascinating inter-related histories. Careful study of bacterial genes gives insight on a crucial question in evolutionary biology: how does evolutionary novelty arise?
My PhD work explored two other major questions in evolutionary theory which can be addressed with microbial systems:
1) what are the molecular bases of the observed fitness advantage associated with sexual reproduction as compared to asexual, in yeast populations?
2) what is the molecular basis of trade-offs across environments (comparing two models; antagonistic pleiotropy and mutation accumulation)?