Bacterial Interactions and Evolution

Group leader: Ákos Kovács

Bacteria rapidly adapt to environment changes and in the presence of other organisms. Our endeavor to understand how bacteria evolve in complex communities facilitates our intention to employ microorganisms in various biotechnological applications. Using Bacillus subtilis, we examine how this bacterium interact during biofilm development and with other microorganisms, including both soil-derived bacteria and fungi. Experimental evolution is a powerful technique to dissect the adaptation process, but also to prudently improve strains without the need for direct genetic modification.

Our research is focused around two major topics:

  • sociomicrobiology of biofilms
  • evolution of microbial interactions

Laboratory biofilms present a powerful system to explore the social interaction of microbes. Due to the large population size and rapid generation time, we can easily investigate the conversion of social interaction that enables us to reveal the evolutionary stable strategies. We use the biofilms of B. subtilis to test various predictions from the field of evolutionary theory, including the burdens of public good production, stability of division of labor, evolution of phenotypic heterogeneity, and influence of selection pressure.

To understand the ecology of Bacilli, we study how B. subtilis evolves to the presence of various organisms, e.g. the black mold fungus, Aspergillus niger, and dissect the role of secondary metabolites in the microbial warfare. Using dedicated selection regimes, we aim to evolve production strains of Bacilli for desired applications in green biotechnology.

Contact

Ákos T. Kovács
Professor
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 25 27