Microbial Evolution and Ecology

Understanding the origins, maintenance and distribution of biological diversity is a central goal of evolutionary biology. How do organisms adapt to novel environments? Does adaptation come with evolutionary costs? What is the functional significance of putatively adaptive variation? In the Miller lab, we take an integrative approach to address these fundamental questions, with a focus on the evolutionary genetics and genomics of environmental tolerance in cyanobacteria, an ancient group of photosynthetic bacteria found in a wide range of habitats. Current projects investigate: (1) the genetic basis of temperature adaptation in a group of hot spring cyanobacteria (Synechococcus) living at or near the thermal limit for photosynthetic life; (2) the genetic basis of ecological divergence of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Mastigocladus laminosus along an environmental gradient; and (3) the causes and consequences of gene duplication for the diversification of a novel group of cyanobacteria (Acaryochloris) with a photosynthetic apparatus based on Chlorophyll d.

Three images in a row of a river, a hot springs, and a buffalo in winter

Interested in joining the lab? Please contact Dr. Miller (scott.miller@umontana.edu) if you are interested in graduate studies in microbial evolution and ecology. We also often have positions available for post-baccalaureate researchers and undergraduate students.