Foster Lab

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Foster Lab

About the Group

Organisms regularly meet members of their own and other species. Whenever these interactions affect survival and reproduction - the currencies of Darwin's natural selection - they are "social" in evolutionary terms. We study how social interactions affect and define biological systems. We have an interest in animal groups and interactions within genomes, including transposon evolution. But our primary focus is the microbes who commonly live in dense and diverse communities. We are also interested in host-symbionts systems, particularly the mammalian microbiome where we are applying our ideas to engineer beneficial communities for improved health. Our work combines theory and experiments, and we write reviews of key concepts and debates in the study of interacting organisms.

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Professor Kevin Foster

Dr Ravinash Krishna Kumar
Dr Elisa Granato
Dr Daniel Unterweger
Dr Diego Gonzalez
Dr Hans Steenackers
Dr Will Smith
Dr Sean Booth
Célia Souque
Thomas Meiller-Legrand
Isabel Frost
Jamie Wheeler
Kirstie Mcloughlin
Oliver Meacock

Recent Publications

Johnson K, Foster KR. 2018.  Why does the microbiome affect behaviour? Nature Reviews Microbiology, online early.

Frost I, Smith W, Mitri S, San Millan A, Davit Y, Osborne JM, Pitt-Francis JM, Maclean C, Foster KR. 2018. Cooperation, competition and antibiotic resistance in bacterial colonies.  ISME journal, 12: 1582–1593

Mavridou DAI, Gonzalez D, Kim W, West SA, Foster KR. 2018.  Bacteria use collective behavior to generate diverse combat strategies. Current Biology, 28: 345-355

Ashby B, Watkins E, Lourenco J, Gupta S, Foster KR. 2017. Competing species leave many potential niches unfilled. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 10.1038/s41559-017-0295-3.

Walsh E, Feuerborn A, Wheeler J, Tan A, Durham WM, Foster KR, and Cook P. 2017. Microfluidics with fluid walls. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00846-4

McDonald GC, Farine DC, Foster KR, Biernaskie JM 2017 Assortment and the analysis of natural selection on social traits. Evolution, 71: 2693-2702

Foster KR, Schluter J, Coyte KZ and Rakoff-Nahoum S. 2017. The evolution of the host microbiome as an ecosystem on a leash. Nature, 548: 43-51

Niehus R, Picot K, Oliveira NM, Mitri S, and Foster KR. 2017. The evolution of siderophore production as a competitive trait. Evolution, 71: 1443–1455. 

Smith W, Davit J, Osborne JM, Kim, W., Foster KR, Pitt-Francis JM 2017. Cell morphology drives spatial patterning in microbial communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  114: E280–E286.

Coyte K Tabuteaue, H, Gaffney EA, Foster KR, Durham WH 2017. Microbial competition in porous environments can select against rapid biofilm growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114E161–E170.

Rakoff-Nahoum S, Foster KR, Comstock L. 2016. The evolution of cooperation within the gut microbiota. Nature, 533: 255–259.

Biernaskie J, Foster KR. 2016. Ecology and multilevel selection explain aggression in spider colonies. Ecology Letters, 19: 873-879.

Oliveira N, Foster KR, Durham W. 2016. Single-cell twitching chemotaxis in developing biofilms, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113: 6532–6537.

Schluter S, Schoech A, Foster KR, Mitri S. 2016. The evolution of quorum sensing as a mechanism to infer kinship. PLoS Computational Biology, 12: e1004848

Nadell CD, Drescher K, Foster KR. 2016 Spatial structure, cooperation, and competition in biofilms, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 14: 589-600.

McLoughlin K, Schluter K, Rakoff-Nahoum S, Smith A, Foster KR. 2016. Host selection of microbiota via differential adhesion. Cell Host and Microbe, 19: 550–559. 

Mitri S, Foster KR. 2016. Pleiotropy and the low cost of individual traits promote cooperation. Evolution, 70: 488–494

Kim W, Levy SB, Foster KR. 2016. Rapid radiation in bacteria leads to a division of labour. Nature Communications, 7, doi:10.1038/ncomms10508    

Mitri S, Clarke E, Foster KR. 2015. Resource limitation drives spatial organization in microbial groups. ISME journal, doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.208.

Niehus R, Mitri S, Fletcher A, Foster KR. 2015. Migration and horizontal gene transfer divide microbial genomes into multiple niches. Nature Communications, 6, doi:10.1038/ncomms9924.

Coyte KZ, Schluter J, Foster KR. 2015. The ecology of the microbiome: networks, competition, and stability. Science, 350: 663-666