Our lab studies the evolution of recombination and host-pathogen coevolution. We mainly develop mathematical models and conduct evolution experiments with bacteria. We are part of the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland. Please browse our website to find out more about our research, who we are and possibilities to join our group!


20/2/2023: Welcome to new Honours students Yuhan Zhu and Oscar Delaney!

1/2/2023: Ehsan’s paper Host phylogeny and ecological associations best explain Wolbachia host shifts in scale insects has been accepted in Molecular Ecology!

11/2023: Maddie finished her Honours with First Class – congratulations Maddie!

12/5/2022: Funding success for the Cooperative Research Centre CRC-SAAFE – Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agriculture, Food, and Environments! This is a big centre with many industry and academic partners, including Andrew Barnes, Andrew Letten and Jan from our School. More information about this Centre here: https://www.crcsaafe.com.au

1/2/2022: Welcome to new Honours student Joshua Bloomfield!

3/12/2021: Erik’s paper from his Honours project, Cytoplasmic incompatibility in hybrid zones: infection dynamics and resistance evolution, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology!

1/11/2021: Welcome to summer project students Yunwhan Kim, Madeline Thornton, Eliza Baulch and Lucas Thor!

30/10/21: Ehsan’s second PhD paper, Wolbachia in scale insects: a distinct pattern of infection frequencies and potential transfer routes via ant associates has been accepted for publication in Environmental Microbiology! Great collaboration with Lyn Cook and her group.

1/2/2021: Welcome to new Honours student Maddie Boggan!

1/12/2020: Welcome to our new lab manager Andrew Tuck!

21/10/2020: Paper accepted in Biological Reviews on Wolbachia host shifts: routes, mechanisms, constraints and consequences. Congratulations to lead author Ehsan and thanks a lot to our coauthor Sylvain Charlat!

1/7/2020: Welcome to new Honours student Mary Gannon!

3/2/2020: Welcome to new Honours students Olivia Jessop and Erik Røed!

26/11/2019: Nicole and Ian each gave a talk at the fantastic Australasian Society for Evolutionary Biology meeting in Sydney.

25/11/2019: Welcome to summer project students Himani & Neve!

1/10/2019: Welcome to Verna Hearne who joined us as a lab manager.

29/7/2019: Welcome to new PhD student Ian Gooi! Ian will work on understanding the dynamics of antibiotic resistance evolution in heterogeneous populations of bacteria.

1/7/2019: Two new papers out! One in Evolution on the dynamics of parasite host switching when the likelihood of a successful host shift depends on the phylogenetic distance between the old and new host. The other one in JEB, a perspective by a diverse group of evolutionary biologists on how science should best be funded.

8/4/2019: Welcome to new PhD student Elisha Freedman! Elisha will work on models of parasite host-shifting, especially in the context of the Wolbachia bacteria and their arthropod hosts.

27/11/2018: Fantastic news – we have been awarded two genererous Discovery Grants from the Australian Research Council! The first project will investigate the predictability of multidrug resistance evolution in bacteria; this will be a collaboration with Isabel Gordo from the Gulbenkian Institute in Lisbon. The other project, with long-time collaborator Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, will investigate patterns of adaptation and recombination rate evolution in the Senecio lautus species complex. Looking forward to exciting years of well-funded research!

19/11/2018: Three undergraduate students (Erik Sandertun Roeed, Sylvia Ngo and Seng Long) have started doing summer projects in the lab. They will work try to gain a better understanding of the distribution of Wolbachia endosymbionts across arthropods.

5/11/2018: Paper accepted at the Journal of Evolutionary Biology on the curious persistance of heterozygosity in the asexually reproducing Cape honeybee. Jan was lucky to play a small part in this paper coming out of Ben Oldroyd’s lab at the University of Sydney, with lab alumnus Nick Smith as the lead author.

2/11/2018: Ian finished his Honours degree – congratulations!

8/2018: Nicole presents her work at two conferences in Europe: the 11th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology in Lisbon and the 2nd Evolution Congress in Montpellier. Great job Nicole!

1/8/2018: Jack Price joins the group as a PhD student. His PhD project will focus on the evolutionary dynamics of integrons. Welcome Jack!

5/2/2018: Ian Gooi joins our lab as Honours student. He will perform evolution experiments to investigate the evolution of multidrug resistance in Acinetobacter baylyi. Welcome Ian!

28/9/2017: Shimul successfully completed his PhD. He is now moving to the UK to start a postdoc position at the University of Liverpool. Congratulations Shimul!

27/9/2017: New review paper out in Proceedings B on reversing drug resistance, highlighting the diversity of routes to loosing resistance and similarities across a wide range of pathogens. Joint work with Richard Allen, Alex Hall, Sebastian Bonhoeffer and Bruce McDonald from ETH Zurich.

1/4/2017: Welcome to new PhD student Ehsan Sanei! Ehsan joined our group to work on Wolbachia-host coevolution.

21/3/2017: New paper on evolutionary processes in automictic populations accepted in Genetics! This paper had a gestation period dwarving that of elephants, so great it’s finally seeing the light of day.

1/1/2017: Welcome to new PhD student Nicole Fortuna! After two undergraduate research projects and Honours, we are happy for Nicole to stay for a few more years.

15/11/2016: The second part of Jan’s sabbatical started, visiting Tanja Stadler’s Computational Evolution group at ETH in Basel, Switzerland. Great group to interact with and learn about phylogenetics.

26/10/2016: New paper out in Proceedings B, detailing James’ Honours work on recombination rate evolution in populations undergoing adaptive divergence.

12/9/2016: Two new papers out in Philosophical Transactions B themed issue on “Weird Sex”.  One is on evolutionary mysteries in meiosis and the other on the mysteries of natural transformation in bacteria.

15/8/2016: Jan started a sabbatical in Isabel Gordo’s group at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência near Lisbon, Portugal. Fantastic place to be!

8/2/2016: Welcome to Nicole and Mark who started their Honours in our lab!

28/1/2016: New review paper out in TREE, on “Recombination rate evolution and the origin of species”. Our first (but definitely not last) joint paper with Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos!

4/11/2015: James finished his Honours degree (1st class), congratulations!

4/11/2015: New paper accepted in The ISME Journal, with collaborators Klaus Harms and Paal Johnsen! In this paper, we develop a mathematical model for why integrons – gene capture and re-shuffling devices found in many bacteria – are evolutionarily maintained in spite of the fitness costs they entail.
(Engelstädter et al., The evolutionary dynamics of integrons in changing environments, The ISME Journal, in press)

25/6/2015: Nick finished his Honours degree (1st class), congratulations!

13/5/2015: New paper published in Science Translational Medicine, with collaborator Pia Abel zur Wiesch as the first author. This paper provides a new perspective on how antibiotics operate and may explain phenomena such as persisters and density-dependent drug action. Great to have played a small part in this exciting project!
(Abel zur Wiesch et al. Classic reaction kinetics can explain complex patterns of antibiotic action, Science Transl Med 7, Issue 287, pp. 287.)

9/2/2015: Welcome to James Reeve who started Honours in our group! Jointly supervised by Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, James will work on models for the evolution of recombination rates during speciation.

17/9/2014: New theory paper by Jan accepted in The American Naturalist on “Host-parasite coevolutionary dynamics with generalized success/failure infection genetics”.

28/7/2014: Welcome to Nick Smith who has started his Honours in our group! Nick will be working on mathematical models to better understand the spread of parthenogenesis in honeybees.

23/7/2014: Jan was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship! Over the next four years, Jan will focus on investigating the role of recombination in bacterial adaptation.

29/5/2014: New paper accepted in BMC Evolutionary Biology!
(Moradigaravand & Engelstädter. The impact of natural transformation on adaptation in spatially structured bacterial populations.
BMC Evolutionary Biology, in press.)

5/5/2014: New paper accepted in PLOS Genetics, with Danesh as the lead author!
(Moradigaravand, D. et al. Recombination accelerates adaptation on a large-scale empirical fitness landscape in HIV-1, PLOS Genetics, in press)

14/4/2014: Welcome to Melani Vial, who over the next few weeks will be working on an undergraduate project in our group, investigating natural transformation in A. baylyi.

25/3/2014: Danesh has successfully defended his PhD thesis at ETH Zurich and will soon be Dr. Moradigaravand. Congratulations Danesh!

12/2/2014: New theory paper accepted on the evolution of antibiotic resistance!
(Engelstädter, J. Fitness landscapes emerging from pharmacodynamic functions in the evolution of multidrug resistance, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, in press.)

8/11/2013: Daniel Ortiz-Barientos from UQ and Jan were awarded an ARC Discovery Grant! Over the next three years, we will collaborate on a project investigating the evolutionary interplay between recombination and speciation.