Max Planck Research Group Experimental Evolution
The independent Experimental Evolution Group uses experiments to investigate evolutionary and ecological processes. Evolution is often thought of as a slow process, but microbes with short generation times and large population sizes can evolve rapidly in laboratory experiments.
Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is an ideal model organism for evolutionary experiments. Its genome is extremely well characterised and easily genetically manipulated. It can grow rapidly as a haploid or at higher ploidy, either sexually or asexually. Cells can secrete toxins, which kill competing cells, or sugars, which help other cells grow. Sex cells court potential mates with a sophisticated pheromone signalling system. S. cerevisiae can also mate with a closely related species, Saccharomyces paradoxus, producing hybrids that are viable but sexually sterile. Wild S. paradoxus can be found on the bark and leaves of oak trees around the world and it is becoming a very useful organism for population genetics studies.
We use Saccharomyces yeast for laboratory experiments on social interactions, sexual signalling, and speciation. We are also interested in characterising the habitat, life cycle, and natural history of wild S. paradoxus. We are developing new methods for this such as the metagenomic analysis of the microbial communities in oak samples and the culturing of yeast in natural conditions.
More information here: www.evolbio.mpg.de/expevolution