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Microbial Evolution Research Manchester (MERMan)

A multidisciplinary research group focused on microbial evolution and ecology.



Microbial Evolution Research Manchester (MERMan) is a multidisciplinary team of researchers focused on understanding microbial evolution and ecology, based at The University of Manchester.

Our research encompasses all levels of biological organisation – molecular, single-cell dynamics, populations and communities.

We use a combination of experimental, genomic and computational techniques to address fundamental and applied questions in evolutionary biology and ecology.

The areas we specialise in include:

  • antimicrobial resistance;
  • microbiome and microbial community dynamics;
  • microbial genomics;
  • single-cell and single-molecule microscopy;
  • gene regulation;
  • symbiosis and coevolution.


Join us

There are several ways for you to join our actively growing collaborative group as an early career or PhD researcher.

Postdoctoral positions will be advertised on The University of Manchester’s jobs portal.

Available PhD positions can be found on the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health’s postgraduate research projects page.

If you are interested in joining us as an externally-funded student or fellow, please get in touch with one of the PIs listed below in the People section.

Who we are

Researchers within our group are based in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, and the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Professor Michael Brockhurst

Professor Michael Brockhurst is a Chair in Evolutionary Biology. His research studies the real-time evolutionary dynamics of microbial communities using a combination of experimental evolution and genomics.

Current research projects include understanding the evolution of antimicrobial resistance (funded by Wellcome Trust), the (co)evolution of bacteria and phage in microbiomes and phage therapy (funded by BBSRC), and unravelling the evolutionary origins of symbiosis (funded by NERC).

Dr Michael Bottery

Dr Michael Bottery is a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow.

His research focuses on how inter-kingdom interactions between fungal and bacterial pathogens during polymicrobial infection can alter the evolution of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Katharine Z Coyte

Dr Katharine Z Coyte is a Presidential Fellow using novel mathematical, computational and experimental methods to study the ecology and evolution of host-associated microbial communities.

Dr Danna Gifford

Dr Danna Gifford is an Independent Research Fellow studying how microbes adapt to new environments, with a special focus on antimicrobial resistance.

Her research uses a combination of computational, experimental and genomic approaches.

Dr Claudia Igler

Dr. Claudia Igler is a Wellcome Trust ECA Fellow using mathematical and biophysical modelling, synthetic engineering and single-cell microscopy to understand the mechanisms driving microbial population dynamics. Her research focuses particularly on the interactions between bacteriophages and their bacterial host cells, and the dependence of these interactions on the environment.

Dr Rok Krašovec

Dr Rok Krašovec is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow focusing on mutagenesis, DNA repair and evolution of antimicrobial resistance in microbial communities.

He is using a range of microbiology and imaging techniques to understand how these molecular processes depend upon the biotic environment.

Dr Mato Lagator

Dr Mato Lagator is a Wellcome Trust Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow studying how the existing molecular mechanisms in cells determine evolution, using gene regulation as the focal system.

Interdisciplinary research in the Lagator group combines biophysics, molecular and synthetic biology to understand evolution.

Dr William Smith

Dr. William Smith is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow studying the ecology and evolution of microbial competition. His research uses computer simulation, multi-omics and experimental evolution to study how microorganisms compete and adapt within host-associated microbial communities (particularly within gut and infection ecosystems).

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Dr Chris Knight

Dr Chris Knight is a Senior Lecturer who uses microbial and computational experimental systems to understand ecological effects on evolutionary mechanisms.

His research crosses biological scales from the genetics of mutagenesis to community change in complex microbiomes.

Dr Sophie Nixon

Dr Sophie Nixon is a NERC Independent Fellow broadly interested in microbial ecology, particularly in natural and engineered deep terrestrial environments.

Applications of her research include harnessing microbial processes to mitigate negative processes (for example, biofouling) and promoting beneficial processes (for example, bioremediation, CO2 sequestration or the degradation of plastics).


Increasing public understanding of microbial evolution and its links to societal problems is a core element of our impact.

Our group members are involved in a number of outreach activities, at local, national, and international levels. Activities initiated by our members include:

  • And The Microbes: A public engagement comic book inspired by real scientific experiments.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance Network: A community of clinical and academic researchers focused on combating antimicrobial resistance.
  • Experimenting With Evolution: Community engagement activity aimed at introducing children and young adults to evolution, microbiology and antimicrobial resistance.
  • You and Your Microbes: Social media engagement for older teens and adults, involving a take-home experiment looking for resistant bacteria on fingertips.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

You can contact one of our researchers through the details on their research profile, as listed in the People section.

Our address

Lab A.4040
Michael Smith Building
Oxford Road
The University of Manchester
M13 9PT

Join our mailing list:

Follow us on Twitter: @MERManchester