Microbiome Evolution

DNA analysis of dental tartar

Human microbiomes are influenced by nearly every aspect of human life, including diet, medication, cultural practices, ancestry, and environmental exposures. Our researchers are trying to untangle how microbes – bacterial and otherwise – and their interactions with other microorganisms evolve as part of this complex web of interactions. Researchers in our Center using ecological, genomic, and ancient DNA methods to explore the evolution of microbiomes over time and space. 

To learn more about ongoing evolutionary research on human and environmental microbiomes, check out Penn State’s new ancient DNA research laboratory – Penn State Ancient Biomolecules Research Laboratory.

Faculty Working in Microbiome Evolution

Seth Bordenstein

Director of the Microbiome Center; Huck Chair in Microbiome Sciences; Professor of Biology and Entomology

The evolutionary and genetic principles that shape symbiotic interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses and the major applications of these interactions to human health.

Ilias Georgakopoulos-Soares

Assistant Professor
The development and implementation of new computational methods in genomics and molecular biology, with the aim of identifying genetic biomarkers for the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of human diseases, including bacterial and viral infections…

Jennifer Macalady

Director of the Ecology Institute; Professor of Geosciences
Microbial interactions with earth materials: soils, sediments, solutes, atmospheric gases, minerals, and rocks. Early evolution of Earth’s biosphere, including photosynthesis and sulfur cycling. Microbial ecology, environmental omics, microbial…

Tim Miyashiro

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

How bacteria adapt to a host environment. The mutualistic symbiosis established between the Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) and a bioluminescent bacterium (Vibrio fischeri).

Tanya Renner

Assistant Professor of Entomology

Evolution of chemical and structural defense. Molecular evolution, evolutionary genomics, and transcriptomics. Origins and evolution of carnivorous plants.

Laura Weyrich

Associate Professor of Anthropology