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Dr Matt Lloyd Jones

Dr Matt Lloyd Jones

Associate Research Fellow


 Environment and Sustainability Institute 1.16


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK

 Office hours:

9am-5pm Mon-Fri


I am a microbial ecologist with an interest in the community ecology and evolution of bacteria, and translating this into practical interventions to reduce the burden of microbe-associated problems (e.g. antibiotic resistance) outside of the lab and computer screen!

My PhD research (in Tom Bell's lab at Silwood Park, Imperial College 2013-2017) focussed on the question of how microbes invade established communities of other microbes, using the 'tree hole' system of leaf-litter degrading microbial communities. For example, how does the number (Jones et al 2017), diversity (Rivett et al 2018) and evolution (Vila et al 2019) of invading species affect their invasion success? Conversely, how does the composition and functioning of the community being invaded limit the success of the invader (Jones et al forthcoming)?

My current postdoctoral research in Dr. Michiel Vos's lab at Exeter focuses on how microbes evolve antibiotic resistance in communities. Our key question is what ecological conditions promote the vertical evolution of resistance in a pathogen in a community, versus the horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to it from the rest of the community.

As well as performing lab-based experimental evolution with sewage microbial communities, I am currently also working towards designing and testing everyday technological interventions for improved antimicrobial stewardship. I am currently speaking to nurses in Cornwall working on managing UTIs the care home setting, but also have interests in environmental antimicrobial stewardship (e.g. in agriculture). I would love to hear from you if this sounds interesting to you, whether you're a scientist, a clinician, a farmer, an anthropologist, economist etc (I'm still a geographer at heart)!


BA Geography, University of Oxford 2009-2012

PhD Microbial Ecology, Imperial College (Silwood Park) 2013-207



Research interests

Bacteria can acquire antibiotic resistance via point mutations but are also able to take up resistance genes from other bacteria via horizontal gene transfer (HGT). HGT via conjugation, transduction and natural transformation might contribute to the rise of certain types of antibiotic resistance as much as point mutations. However, it is still unclear whether the ratio of vertical versus horizontal resistance evolution varies predictably across the environment. We are using experimental evolution and whole genome resequencing to explore whether different environmental conditions shift the balance between vertical and horizontal evolution. As a starting point for this research, we are exploring the effects of antibiotic concentration on the evolution of resistance in E.coli under exposure to a natural sewage community. Antibiotic concentration is an interesting first parameter we are exploring because it not only imposes evolutionary selection for resistance on a single-species population level, but also causes ecological sorting of the multi-species communities in which individual populations are embedded. This could have profound implications for the likelihood of vertical versus horizontal gene transfer. Given that concentrations of particular antibiotics are known to vary with some predictability according to clinical setting or land use, our results could also have broad implications for the management of AMR.

Research projects

Vertical vs Horizontal AMR, supervised by Dr Michiel Vos

Technologies for antimicrobial stewardship in care homes, working with NHS nurses in Cornwall

Research networks

Dr. Michiel Vos, Professor Will Gaze, Professor Angus Buckling



Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Macaulay Winter PhD student

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