Dr. Sam Brown
My work centres on two themes: the evolution of cooperation and the evolution of virulence. These two themes combine strongly when applied to microbial pathogens, as microbes must often cooperate, communicate and coordinate in order to successfully exploit their hosts.
The major challenges in my current research focus on understanding the complex multi-agent dynamics that shape microbial social interactions. My recent research has revealed the vital role that mobile genetic elements (molecular parasites of bacteria, such as plasmids and temperate phages) play in driving the evolution of microbial cooperative behaviours and consequent virulence. An additional challenge is to understand the complex multi-species social dynamics governing the establishment, maintenance and transmission of pathogens in the gut and nasopharynx. On a more applied level, a growing interest is in devising novel therapeutic strategies to exploit our emerging understanding of microbial social life. I address these challenges using a mix of analytical modeling, genomics and experimental evolution.
Rankin DJ, Rocha EPC & Brown SP 2011. What traits are coded on mobile genetic elements, and why? Heredity 106, 110.
Kummerli R & Brown SP. 2010. Molecular and regulatory properties of a public good shape the evolution of cooperation. P.N.A.S. 107, 18921-18926.
Lysenko ES, Lijek RS, Brown SP & Weiser JN. 2010. Within-host competition drives selection for the capsule virulence determinant of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Current Biology 20, 1222-1226.
Brown SP & Taylor PD. 2010. Joint evolution of multiple social traits a kin selection analysis. Proc. R. Soc. B. 277, 415-422.
Nogueira T, Rankin DJ, Touchon M, Taddei F, Brown SP, Rocha EPC. 2009. Horizontal gene transfer of the secretome drives the evolution of bacterial cooperation and virulence. Current Biology 19, 1683-91
Brown SP, West SA, Diggle SP, Griffin AS. 2009. Social evolution in microorganisms and a trojan horse approach to medical intervention strategies. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 364, 3157-68
Brown SP & Buckling A. 2008. A social life for discerning microbes. Cell 135, 600-603.
Brown SP, Le Chat L & Taddei F 2008. Evolution of virulence: invading pathogens trigger host inflammation to exclude competitors. Ecology Letters 11, 44-51
This article was published on Feb 8, 2012