Craig MacLean

Associate Professor, Royal Society University Research Fellow

Hugh Price Fellow in Evolutionary Biology, Jesus College


Research Interests

I am interested in using microbial microcosms to study evolutionary biology. Most of my work deals with the population genetics of adaptation to novel environments, the evolution of social interactions, and evolutionary diversification. My current research is centered around two themes.


Social evolution in yeast: The availability of detailed data on the genetics and biochemisty of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae makes this an ideal model organism for understanding the molecular basis of social interactions. My research with yeast has focused on understanding how kin selection and biochemical contraints can maintain cooperation in the face of exploitation by cheats. This work is done in collaboration with Ivana Gudelj and Rob Beardmore.

Evolution of antibiotic resistance: Much of my current work focuses on understanding the evolutionary genetics of antibiotic resistance in the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. I am interested in understanding how many evolutionary trajectories can be taken during the evolution of antibiotic resistance and how this is linked to the effects of resistance mutations on protein stability and activity. Hopefully, this work will provide some insight into how to minimize the evolution of resistance in a clinical setting. This work is done in collaboration with Angus Buckling

MacLean Lab - Evolutionary biology




Selected Publications

  • R.C. MacLean, G.G. Perron, and A. Gardner. Diminishing Returns from Beneficial Mutations and Pervasive Epistasis Shape the Fitness Landscape for Rifampicin Resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Genetics (2010) 186:1-10.
  • R.C. MacLean, A. Fuentes-Hernandez , D. Greig , L.D Hurst LD, and I. Gudelj. A Mixture of “Cheats” and “Co-Operators” Can Enable Maximal Group Benefit. PLoS Biology (2010) 8: e1000486. [Link]
  • A.D. Morgan, R.C. MacLean, C. Hillesland, and G. Velicer. Comparative analysis of Myxococcus predation on soil bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2010) In press. [Link]
  • R.C. MacLean, A. Hall, G. Perron, and A. Buckling. The Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance: Insight into the Roles of Molecular Mechanisms of Resistance and Treatment Context. Discovery Medicine (2010) 10:112-118. [Link]
  • MacLean, R.C. The tragedy of the commons in microbial populations: insights from theoretical, experimental, and comparative studies. Heredity. In press
  • MacLean R.C. and I. Gudelj. 2006. Resource competition and social conflict in experimental populations of yeast. Nature 441:498-501
  • MacLean, R.C., A. Dickson, and G.Bell. 2005. Resource competition and adaptive radiation in a microbial microcosm. Ecology Letters 8:36-46
  • MacLean, R.C, P.B Rainey, and G. Bell. 2004. The evolution of a pleiotropic fitness trade-off in Pseudomonas fluorescens. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:8072-8077
  • MacLean, R.C and G. Bell. 2002. Experimental Adaptive Radiation in Pseudomonas. American Naturalist 160:569-581