Kayla King

Associate Professor in Parasite Biology

Tutorial Fellow, Christ Church


Research Interests

What drives rapid evolution? What are the benefits of sex? Why is genetic diversity so high in natural populations?

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. My 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.

My research uses a combination of mathematical modelling, experimental evolution of lab populations, and genetic analysis, experiments, and collections from natural populations. I have worked with many animal-parasite systems. Presently, I am concentrating on the (co)evolutionary interactions between (i) parasitoid wasp-“male-killing” bacteria, and (ii) Caenorhabditis elegans-bacteria

I am keen to build a stimulating and collaborative research environment. Applicants for graduate and research fellow positions in my lab are welcome. Please send me your CV and a description of your research interests. 

Additional Information

American Naturalist Young Investigator Prize 2013.



Email: kayla.king@zoo.ox.ac.uk



Selected Publications

  • King, K.C., Auld, S, Wilson, P.J., James, J., Little, T. 2013. The bacterial parasite Pasteuria ramosa is not killed if it fails to infect: implications for coevolution. Ecology and Evolution. In press.

  • King, K.C., Lively, C.M. 2012. Can genetic diversity limit disease spread in host populations? Heredity 109, 199-203.

  • King, K.C., Seppälä, O., Neiman, M. 2012. Is more better? Polyploidy and parasite resistance. Biology Letters 8, 598-600.

  • King, K.C., Jokela, J., Lively, C.M. 2011. Parasites, sex, and clonal diversity in natural snail populations. Evolution 65: 1474-1481.
  • King, K.C., Hurst, G.D.D. 2010. Losing the desire: selection can promote obligate asexuality. BMC Biology 8, 101-104.

  • King, K.C., Delph, L.F., Jokela, J., and Lively, C.M. 2009. The geographic mosaic of sex and the Red Queen. Current Biology 19, 1438-1441.