According to the IU press release, the team’s research efforts will center on the following objectives: (1) Determine the contributions that important pathways for DNA repair make to the genomic mutation rate. (2) Determine the extent to which cellular stress responses impact mutational rate. (3) Assess the mutational response to common growth conditions. (4) Broaden the understanding of microbial mutation rates and test a recently developed model for the evolution of genomic base-composition. (5) Develop a new class of population-genetic models for understanding the evolution of mutation rate itself.

Foster added, “Our overall goal is to establish baseline parameters, achieve mechanistic understanding, and develop predictive models that will yield a comprehensive understanding of the forces that ultimately define short-term and long-term patterns of microbial molecular evolution.”

Foster, the principal investigator of the grant, is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and is widely considered an expert on bacterial and microbial mutation, namely the mutagenesis of E. coli. Her lab is interested in studying the molecular mechanism of recombination-dependent mutations and the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of DNA polymerases and their subunits.

Lynch, an evolutionary biologist, is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research is focused on mechanisms of evolution at various levels, with a focus on the roles of mutation, random genetic drift, and recombination through the use of several model systems including Daphnia and Paramecium.