In June 2007 we held a workshop entitled Mathematical Models and Experimental Microbial system: Tools for Studying Evolution as a precursor to forming a network in this area. The workshop was a huge success and we request funding to form a follow-on network as the essential next step to allow the fledgling interactions to flourish and to bridge gaps and forge links that will lead to new research directions and long term collaborations.The proposed network will bring together mathematicians and life scientists to jointly work on some of the major problems in evolutionary ecology inspired by two fundamental questions: What determines species diversity? and How did cooperative behaviour evolve?. These questions were highlighted in a recent special issue of Science from among 25 key problems that face the scientific community over the coming decades that make the timing of this network particularly apposite.An increasingly fruitful approach to studying evolutionary problems is to perform laboratory experiments on microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, yeast and some slime-moulds where evolution can be observed as it happens and where high-quality data can be obtained at molecular, genetic, metabolic and cellular levels, data that is absolutely essential to the modelling process. This has lead to a revolution in microbial ecology and a recent article in Nature Microbiology has emphasized that the full potential of the ongoing revolution will not be realised if research is not directed and driven by theory and that the generality of established theory must be tested using microbial experiments.Therefore our network will bring together a range of scientists from mathematicians, theoretical modellers, experimental microbial ecologists, microbiologists to biochemists. Their expertise will allow us to formulate and tackle complex evolutionary problems at many different levels, from multi-trophic, through to population and down to the cellular level. We will hold four workshops culminating in the final international meeting at the end of the thee-year support period. The day-to-day contact amongst the network members will be maintained through the network web-site and we will also hold a summer school in the second your of the grant. The EPSRC support will allow us to set up a solid foundation for the growth and expansion of the network culminating in the world-leading and self-sustainable virtual centre for studying evolution.
Workshop: Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance, Imperial, Jan 2009.
Workshop: Evolution of Stress Responses, Aberdeen, Sep 2009.
Workshop: Coevolution: Models and microbial model systems, Liverpool, Apr 2010.
Workshop: Evolution of Microbial Cooperation, Bath, Jan 2011.
Workshop: Mathematics of Microbes: Biological Details of the Evolving Cell, Imperial, Apr 2011