Sergey Kryazhimskiy

2018 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Ecology, Behavior & Evolution
UC San Diego

Project Title: Predicting Adaptive Evolution in a Microbe

Project Description: Microbes adapt rapidly to their environments, which can lead to consequences that are undesired (e.g., yield loss in industrial bioreactors) or even disastrous (e.g., multi-drug resistance). Predicting microbial adaptation would enable us to develop therapies with a decreased potential for resistance evolution and design more efficient and safe synthetic organisms. However, Kryazhimskiy’s team is currently unable to predict how microbial populations evolve even under controlled laboratory conditions because they do not know how new mutations would affect their physiology and fitness. Recently, “bacterial growth laws” were discovered in bacterium E.coli that predict which physiological changes will be favored by natural selection in certain environments and which will not be. Based on these growth laws, the team will develop and test a predictive theory of adaptive evolution for E.coli.  Kryazhimskiy’s team will measure how new adaptive mutations perturb bacterial physiology and fitness and test whether they do so according to the growth-law theory. Then, the team will attempt to predict and experimentally observe adaptive evolution over multiple mutational steps. This work will improve our understanding of bacterial evolution.

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