Edze Westra 2016

Edze Westra

Research Group

Dr. Westra's research group currently consists of one PhD student, two technicians and a postdoctoral researcher.

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Dr Edze Westra

Associate Professor / NERC Independent Research Fellow


I am a NERC funded Independent Research Fellow (Associate Professor), working on the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions. My lab studies how ecological variables drive the evolution of various immune strategies in bacteria, with an emphasis on CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems, and examines their coevolutionary consequences. Bacteria encode lots of different immune mechanisms, and their molecular basis has been studied in great detail, which makes them an ideal model system to study more generally how ecology drives the evolution of different defenses. These bacterial defense mechanisms include CRISPR-Cas, which I studied at the molecular level during the start of my scientific career, surface modification, restriction modification, abortive infection and prokaryotic Argonaute.

I am also a member of the Biosciences department in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Research interests

  • Evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions
  • Coevolution of bacteria and phage
  • Evolution of parasite host range and virulence

Current projects

  • My current work focuses on the evolution of different immune strategies in bacteria in response to phage, and the coevolutionary consequences. I am particularly interested in the way parasites drive diversity in host populations and the impact of various immune mechanisms on the evolution of phage life history traits.


2016 Heineken Young Scientist Award for Biochemistry and Biophysics (awarded by the KNAW, the Dutch royal society for science)
2014 Westerdijk Award for best Ph. research in Microbiology in the Netherlands (awarded by the KNVM, the Dutch society for microbiology)
2013 Westenbrink Award for best PhD research in Biochemistry in the Netherlands (awarded by the NVBMB, the Dutch society for biochemistry and molecular biology)
2013 PhD Microbiology (University of Wageningen)
2007 MSc Molecular Life Sciences (University of Wageningen)
2006 BSc Molecular Life Sciences (University of Wageningen)


2016 NERC Independent Senior Research Fellow
2015 NERC Independent Research Fellow
2013 Marie-Curie postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Wageningen

Contact details

Email e.r.westra@exeter.ac.uk
Phone +44 (0) 1326 259484

Environment and Sustainability Institute

University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
Cornwall TR10 9EZ