We are the Evolutionary Biology group at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, led by Isabel Gordo.

All natural populations are constantly subject to new mutations, and frequently face novel environments, to which they adapt. However simple questions such as: What is the rate and distribution of fitness effects of beneficial mutations across environments? How does the evolutionary process proceeds in the context of an ecosystem? Still remain incompletely answered. The major goal of our lab is to contribute to answering these fundamental questions, using Escherichia coli, as our main model system.

This is a golden time to study adaptation. While in past years extensive effort at the theoretical level was put into understanding how natural selection works, the most important questions were posed and several models of adaptation were developed, in the recent years technological developments were made that permit putting theoretical predictions to experimental test. Our research aims to capitalize on such developments and extend previous theoretical models in the light of the data gathered.

E. coli is a typical commensal species of the human microbiota, which colonizes the gut within hours after birth. In our research we use E. coli as a model for understanding the major forces that shape variation in the mammalian gut. Therefore, we test theoretical predictions about the evolution of mutation rates in an experimental setup and study the genetics of adaptation. Another line of current work focuses on the effect of epistatic interactions on fitness in the context of antibiotic resistance. To achieve these goals we integrate several methodologies, including comparative genomics, targeted mutagenesis, mathematical modeling and experimental evolution; in vitro and in vivo.

We thank the following organisations for funding and supporting our research: