Evolution at Tech Seminar Series

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"Synthetic Microbial Communities: Integrating Systems Biology with Evolutionary Ecology"

William Harcombe, PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Minnesota

Despite the clear importance of microbial communities we remain largely ignorant about the forces shaping their content, function and dynamics. I have developed a series of approaches to investigate the connection between cellular physiology and community evolutionary ecology. First, synthetic microbial communities are providing insight into the ecological dynamics and evolution that arise from species with defined metabolic interactions. On going evolution of 2 and 3-species consortia has uncovered alterations in excretion profiles, species ratios, and community stability. Second, I am using systems-level metabolic modeling to quantitatively predict the dynamics of microbial ecosystems. A new platform I helped develop harnesses the power of constraint-based modeling to predict community behavior from knowledge of the metabolic networks present in each species. Integration of laboratory and computational approaches is beginning to provide quantitative understanding of the behavior of complex networks from genomes to ecosystems.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Colly Mitchell
  • Created:03/18/2014
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:04/13/2017


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