Research Fellows Directory
Dr Tiffany Taylor
University of Bath
How does novelty arise in evolution? Is the process solely chance based or might we able to discern rules for the evolution of innovation? Are there genetic or environmental factors that might predispose to particular routes to the evolution of novelty? My work addresses these issues using a combination of molecular genetic manipulations/analyses and experimental evolution, within the context of analysis of gene regulatory networks (GRNs).
To investigate these big questions I use bacteria. Bacteria can be easily stored, genetically manipulated in the laboratory, and their rapid generation times and large population sizes means evolution can occur very quickly. Using a genetically modified common soil bacterium, Pseudomonas fluorescens, which has had the ‘master switch’ of the flagellar network deleted, I can investigate which genes are recruited to replace function and look to see whether this aligns with genetic similarity to the deleted master switch gene. In addition, I can alter the environment to change how much genes are expressed, and see whether this changes which gene is recruited to replace function. Understanding what shapes the evolution of gene regulatory networks in simple organisms will provide greater insight into the overarching principals that are likely to drive the evolution of all gene networks.
In addition to addressing fundamental questions in science, regarding drivers of genome evolution and complexity, understanding the evolution of gene regulatory networks will have wider implications for understanding how networks evolve and function in more complex organisms, such as in developmental and cancer pathways.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)