Abstract: Bacteria have a range of sophisticated immune mechanisms to protect against virus infections, but it is unclear why all these different mechanisms evolved in the first place. Under laboratory conditions, bacteria typically evolve de novo virus resistance using either surface modification or CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems. In this talk I will discuss ecological factors that can tip the balance in the evolution of these two immune mechanisms and examine their distinct co-evolutionary implications.
Dr Edze Westra
Associate Professor / NERC Independent Research Fellow
Profile: I am a NERC funded Independent Research Fellow (Associate Professor), working on the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions. My lab studies how ecological variables drive the evolution of various immune strategies in bacteria, with an emphasis on CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems, and examines their coevolutionary consequences. Bacteria encode lots of different immune mechanisms, and their molecular basis has been studied in great detail, which makes them an ideal model system to study more generally how ecology drives the evolution of different defenses. These bacterial defense mechanisms include CRISPR-Cas, which I studied at the molecular level during the start of my scientific career, surface modification, restriction modification, abortive infection and prokaryotic Argonaute.
I am a member of the Environment and Sustainability Institute.