Targeted protein evolution is an important, naturally occurring phenomenon, which is likely to offer translational advances in the field of directed evolution. In microbial genomes, localized mutagenesis can impart dramatic protein diversity, offering selective advantages linked with optimizing a variety of cellular and viral functions. The phenomenon was first discovered within bacteriophage and pathogens, but has more recently been identified as a widespread genetic feature across the microbial Tree of Life. The PIs aim to build on these discoveries to ascertain functional roles of hypervariable proteins, while aiming to better describe the genetic mechanism underlying their diversity.
The Center for Rapid Evolution in Microbial Systems will form out of an established collaboration of expert scientists across three campuses, transitioning into a multi-campus and international network recognized for crosscutting discoveries in microbiology, molecular evolution, and structural biology.