We have recently discovered that commensal bacteria in the human body are continually evolving within individual people under the pressure of adaptive evolution—with mutations emerging and being fixed in the population within months (Zhao & Lieberman et al, bioRxiv). Inspired by this finding, our lab is addressing a number of questions about human-associated microbiomes, using a variety of model systems, with a heavy emphasis on the skin microbiome. Our work is focused in the following areas:

  1. Consequences of rapid within-person evolution for host health and community structure
  2. Within-person evolution as a tool to understand colonization, transmission, and survival strategies of particular microbiome members
  3. Community assembly of the skin microbiome in health and disease
  4. Population genetics of rapid adaptation (theory and modeling), using and inspired by microbiome data.
  5. Tool development for strain-level analysis of microbiome data
  6. Determinants of immunological response to commensal microbiota

See our publications page for more information.