Dr Jan Engelstädter
I am broadly interested in the evolutionary biology of sexual processes, parasitism, and the interplay between these phenomena. Most of my work involves mathematical models, but I also do experimental and field work. Currently, my research focuses on the following topics:
Reproductive parasites. These parasites, which include the famous bacterium Wolbachia, infect many insect species and manipulate the reproduction of their hosts in fascinating ways.
Recombination in bacteria. Bacteria reproduce clonally, but many still exchange genes with other bacteria, for example through plasmids or the uptake of free DNA from the environment. I'm especially interested in how recombination can affect the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
Host-parasite coevolution. Hosts and parasites interact in an antagonistic manner, which may produce interesting coevolutionary dynamics. I am also scrutinizing the Red Queen hypothesis, which posits that host-parasite coevolution can produce selection for recombination and sexual reproduction.
Parthenogenesis in animals. Although most animals reproduce sexually, some species have given up sex and consist of asexually reproducing females only. I am interested in the factors that enhance or inhibit the evolution of such parthenogenetic species and on their long-term evolutionary fate.
Engelstädter, J., Sandrock, C. & Vorburger, C. Contagious parthenogenesis, automixis, and a sex determination meltdown. Evolution 65: 501-511 (2011)
Engelstädter, J. & Hurst, G.D.D. The ecology and evolution of microbes that manipulate host reproduction. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution & Systematics 40: 127-149 (2009)
Engelstädter, J. & Bonhoeffer, S. Red Queen dynamics with non-standard fitness interactions. PLoS Computational Biology 5: e1000469 (2009)
Engelstädter, J. Constraints on the evolution of asexual reproduction. BioEssays 30: 1138-1150 (2008)
Duron, O., Hurst, G.D.D., Hornett, E.A., Josling, J.A. & Engelstädter, J. High incidence of the maternally inherited bacterium Cardinium hertigii in spiders. Molecular Ecology 17: 1427-1437 (2008)