Ecology and evolution of interactions between mobile genetic elements and bacteria in the microbiome

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the process by which organisms acquire genetic material from a non-parental organism and has a crucial role in shaping the evolution and ecology of prokaryotes. Mobile genetic elements (MGE) mediate conjugation and transduction, both major mechanisms of HGT. MGE genetic architecture consists on arrays of genetic modules often shared between different types of MGEs, suggesting that recombination drives the emergence of new types of MGEs. Most studies on environmental and host-associated microbiomes focus on cellular genomes or in specific types of MGEs. However, the impact of MGE mediated HGT in prokaryotes, the effect on fitness of MGE encoded genes, the evolutionary arms race between prokaryotes and MGEs and the genetic interactions between different MGEs, require an integrative approach. My group seeks to develop a an integrative computational framework combining multi-omics and network analyses to investigate the complex interactions between MGEs and their microbial hosts at ecological and molecular levels.

Specific projects

  • Systematic discovery of bacteria and phage interaction mechanisms

  • Network-based integration of heterogenous -omics data

  • Evolution and differentiation of bacterial stringent factors