Welcome!  We are the Kreft Research Group at the University of Birmingham

Social behaviour, biofilms, and the importance of being spatial

Our research interests revolve around intriguing interactions between microorganisms, or between microbes with their hosts, and focus on when and how spatial structure in the population and environment changes the competitiveness of the different survival strategies.

Questions we like to ask are:

  • How are resistance plasmids maintained in the environment?
  • How does prey size affect the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus?
  • Why is metabolic labour divided in nitrification?
  • How can cooperation as restraint from competition or the economical use of resources evolve (tragedy of the commons)?
  • What is the fitness advantage of the division of labour between motile and immotile subpopulations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa?
  • Is quorum sensing really just measuring cell density under more complex natural conditions, e.g. when cells are clustered?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of broad and narrow host range plasmids (generalists versus specialists)?
  • What is the optimal gut layout and gut microbiota community composition for the energy intake of the host?
  • How important is spatial heterogeneity of microbes and patchiness of resource distribution for the degradation of pollutants in groundwater ecosystems?

To address these fundamental questions we combine individual-based modelling and other mathematical models with experiments in the laboratory.

University of Birmingham | Centre for Systems Biology | Institute of Microbiology and Infection | School of Biosciences | Find The Lab