The King Lab, Oxford

Exploring rapid host-parasite evolution in nature and in the lab

We investigate the evolutionary power and potential of parasites

Parasites are everywhere. Their severe antagonism can impose strong selection on host organisms to resist, and for parasites, the rule is often infect or die. Host-parasite interactions thus provide an ideal framework to study the drivers and consequences of rapid evolutionary change in nature.

We are a diverse and multi-disciplinary team based in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. We test evolutionary hypotheses using a diversity of host-parasite (mostly host-microbe) systems across the tree of life – from snails, insects, and worms to bacteria and viruses – using a combination of experimental evolution, state-of-the-art genomics technology, field work, and theory. Our research focuses on links between host-parasite interactions and big questions in evolutionary biology:

⦁ Rapid evolution
⦁ Defences against infection (including from the microbiome)
⦁ Adaptive origin of symbiosis
⦁ Evolution of virulence
⦁ Biodiversity from genomes to communities
⦁ Social interactions
⦁ Life-history trade-offs
⦁ Sexual reproduction and behaviours

Our research has been generously funded by the following organisations:

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