UCL Division of Biosciences


GEE Seminar - Professor Kayla King, University of Oxford

26 January 2022, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm


Title: 'Microbial Protection and Rapid Evolution in Host-Pathogen Interactions'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey



Academic Host: Hernán Burbano
Abstract: Many animal and plant species harbour microbes in their microbiota that suppress pathogen infection. These ‘protective microbes’ can be a significant component of host defence. By experimentally evolving multiple microbial systems (e.g., worms, bacteria, viruses), my group has demonstrated that host-associated microbes can rapidly evolve to defend their animal hosts against infection. We show these protective microbes can drive major changes in pathogen virulence and host genetic-based resistance, as well as alter coevolutionary dynamics and evolutionary rates. Our results indicate that microbes in hosts are important in shaping infection outcomes, now and over evolutionary time.

About the Speaker

Professor Kayla King

Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at University of Oxford

My research addresses these fundamental problems in evolutionary biology by studying the interactions between parasites and hosts. Parasites are ubiquitous, and their antagonism can be severe and genotype-specific. Thus, host-parasite interactions provide a powerful empirical framework to elucidate the causes and consequences of intra- and interspecific evolutionary changes. Our work focuses on the ecological and genetic aspects of rapid (co)evolution, with particular implications for community interactions, mating systems, and the maintenance of diversity. We use a combination of experimental evolution of lab populations, genomics, theory, and collections from natural populations.

More about Professor Kayla King