Bacterial cells have evolved over billions of years to engage in complex multicellular networks dominated by mutual interactions. The "Social Evolution" research programme aims to provide fundamental insight into the general background and principles of microbial evolution and ecology via detailed studies of interactions in complex microbial populations.

The research focus on two primary bacterial activities leading to social interaction: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), and the production of chemicals that are essential for the establishment and maintenance of social interactions (common goods) such as extracellular catabolic enzymes, signalling compounds, antibiotics etc. These two activities account for a very large part of all social interactions, and are the basis of many useful applications in biotechnology, medicine and agricultural production.


The spread of plasmids carrying antimicrobial resistance or other undesirable functions has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.

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Studies performed by our group have had a substantial contribution to our current knowledge on horizontal gene transfer in aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Write a project on Sociomicrobiology

Exploiting evolution: Designing microbial interactions for industrial scenarios.

This project will address the use of microbial communities to maintain increased food and energy production in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

We are planning to isolate and identify microbial communities (bacteria or fungi)  to construct synthetic microbial consortia to help in bio-industrial processes and support Europe’s developing bio-economy.

A project may include:
Microcosms enrichment
Fluorescent activated cell sorting
Classic culturing
Enzymes activities
PCR and qPCR analysis
Metagenome and metatranscriptome
Bioinformatic analysis

  Next generation
sequencing, bioinformatics, bio-industry

Supervisor: Søren Sørensen

Horizontal gene transfer
- Spread of antibiotic resistance -

Increased antibiotic resistance in a wide range of human pathogens is a growing public health threat. This rapid spread of antibiotic resistance genes is mediated by mobile genetic elements like plasmids, which can be rapidly transferred between microorganisms.

We study plasmid transfer in various natural environments such as wastewater, soil and
animal model systems.

A project may include:
Microcosms / Animal model systems
Genetically engineering
Fluorescent activated cell sorting
Metagenome sequencing
Bioinformatic analysis

   Søren Sørensen