DPhil Title: The evolutionary causes and consequences of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria.
Organisms pass their genes vertically to their descendants; as such, the evolutionary history of a gene should mirror that of the organism in which it is present. However, advancements in genomics have revealed that this is often not the case. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), where genetic material is transferred between organisms other than vertically, has been found to be remarkably common. This is particularly true for bacteria, with much of the average bacterial genome made up of ‘foreign’ DNA. The effect of such widespread HGT is likely to be important for many areas of bacterial research.
My research aims to identify the evolutionary causes of HGT and analyse the consequences for the structure and function of bacterial genomes.