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Evolution and Mechanisms


The United Nations has recognised that tackling the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the environment as one of the greatest emerging environmental concerns in the world.

At Exeter we explore the evolution of antimicrobial resistance to understand and potentially hinder this process. We aim to establish a blueprint for how to best manage AMR in clinical and environmental settings. Currently, resistant bacteria are released into the natural environment through contamination of streams, rivers, seawater soil. The environment is impacted by antimicrobials and AMR organisms through animal waste on farms or through human sewage treatment plant effluent. Exeter’s research focuses on new ways to break this damaging cycle.

We also study the evolution of resistance in clinical pathogens and in in complex microbial communities found in human and animal microbiomes. Many fungal pathogens are also ubiquitous in the environment and are developing resistance to frontline clinical antifungal drugs via selection in the environment, especially from antifungals routinely sprayed on a variety of crops.

The molecular and evolutionary pathways explaining the emerging antifungal resistance need to be explored. We aim to obtain an increased insight in those mechanisms to find targets to intervene.

Evolution - primary investigators


Professor William Gaze Professor of Microbiology Environment, policy, microbiome, evolution ecology, public health, agriculture, evidence
Professor Robert Beardmore Professor of Mathematical Biosciences Mathematical modelling, evolutionary datasets, antibiotic resistance
Dr Lihong Zhang Research Fellow  Antibiotics resistance, molecular microbiology, environmental microbiology, medical microbiology, microbial ecology
Professor Angus Buckling Professor of Evolutionary Biology  Evolutionary ecology, antimicrobial resistance
Dr Michiel Vos Senior Lecturer Microbiology, evolutionary ecology, population genomics, bacterial genome evolution, ecology of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes
Professor Neil Gow Professor of Microbiology and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) Antifungal resistance, Candida auris, antifungal drug transit, drug resistance mechanisms, echinocandins, antifungal drugs, antifungal therapies
Professor Adilla Warris Professor in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Deputy Director MRC Centre for Medical Mycology Antifungal resistance, azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus, evolution, clinical implications
Professor Al Brown Deputy Director MRC Centre for Medical Mycology Antifungal resistance, evolution
Professor Edze Westra Professor / NERC Independent Research Fellow Ecological variables, evolution, immune strategies, bacteria, Phage, CRISPR
Dr Stineke Van Houte BBSRC Future Leadership Fellow CRISPR-Cas, bacteria-phage interactions, AMR plasmid spread in microbial communities
Dr Uli Klümper Marie Curie Fellow AMR selection dynamics, Plasmids, Horizontal gene transfer
Professor Stuart Townley Professor in Applied Mathematics Systems modelling, analysis and management
Dr Aimee Murray NERC Fellow Culturing, molecular methods (qPCR, cloning, functional metagenomics), next generation sequencing, metagenome analyses, evolution experiments
Dr Ben Raymond Associate Professor Experimental evolutionary ecology, insects, plants, bacterial pathogens and symbionts, virulence and resistance, parasites, symbionts, Bacillus thruringiensis and resistance to antibiotics.
Dr Rhys Farrer Lecturer in Bioinformatics at MRC Centre for Medical Mycology Genome sequencing, hospital outbreak strains, C. auris, C. neoformans, C. gattii, environmental sequencing, variant discovery in antifungal targets, ERG11, tool/database development of drug resistance alleles, MARDy
Dr Alan Brown Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology Molecular bacteriology; niche adaptation and antimicrobial resistance; host-pathogen interactions; immunotherapy.
Professor Ivana Gudelj

Professor of Evolutionary Systems Biology

Mathematical modelling, multi-species communities, evolution, antifungals

Dr Steven Porter

Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry Bacterial signal transduction, novel antimicrobial development, kinase inhibitors, sensor kinase, protein biochemistry, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia pseudomallei.


Professor Sarah Gurr


 Chair in Food Security Antifungals, fungicide resistance, evolution, global movement and stewardship of antifungals

Dr Phil Mitchelmore

Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine Bronchiectasis; Cystic Fibrosis; lung disease; cross-infection; microbiome; antimicrobial resistance