Experimental Evolution Group


The Experimental Evolution Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology is an independent research group that is directly funded by the Max Planck Society. We use experiments to investigate evolutionary and ecological processes. Evolution is often thought of as a slow process, but microbes with short generation times and large population sizes can evolve rapidly in laboratory experiments.

Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is an ideal model organism for evolutionary experiments. Its genome is extremely well characterised and easily genetically manipulated. It can grow rapidly and at very high population density, either sexually or asexually. Cells can produce toxins (most famously ethanol, which humans like to drink) to harm competitors, or useful molecules like sugars, which help other cells grow. Sex cells court potential mates with a sophisticated pheromone signalling system. S. cerevisiae can also mate with a closely related species, Saccharomyces paradoxus, producing hybrids that are viable but sexually sterile. WildS. paradoxus can be found on the bark and leaves of oak trees around the world and it is becoming a useful organism for studying yeast in its natural environment.

We use Saccharomyces yeast for laboratory experiments on sexual signalling, social interactions, and speciation. We are also interested in characterising the habitat, life cycle, and natural history of wild S. paradoxus. We are developing new methods for this such as the quantification of pheromone signal by ELISA, metagenomic analysis of the microbial communities in oak samples, and the culturing of yeast in natural conditions.

If you would like to join our team and have suitable experience and qualifications, please send a message and a CV to d.greig[at]evolbio.mpg.de.


Greig Lab Overview