Microbial Experimental Evolution and Statistical Genomics

Jonathan Bollback

Jonathan Bollback's group works in three primary areas: experimental evolution, evolutionary genomics, and statistical phylogenetics. Microbes — viruses, bacteria, archaea, and protists — account for half of all the biomass and the majority of organismal diversity on planet earth. Microbes gave rise to higher organisms and have left their genomic calling cards in the form of organelles, genes, and so called junk DNA. Microbes are the source of the majority of human diseases. For these reasons alone microbes are worthy of scientific study. Yet, they are also important in another way: they are an extraordinarily powerful model system for understanding in very fine detail how evolution works. Our research focuses on microbial evolution, evolutionary interactions between hosts and parasites, and the evolution of bacterial immunity. To accomplish this we use experimental evolution, population genetics, and statistical modeling.

Jonathan Bollback
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-3601
E-mail: jonathan.bollback@remove-this.ist.ac.at

CV and publication list

Jonathan Bollback's website


Astrid Bonventre-Darthe
Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1015
E-mail: astrid.bonventre-darthe@remove-this.ist.ac.at


  • Hande Acar, PhD Student
  • Claudia Igler, Phd Student (jointly with Guet Group)
  • Fabienne Jesse, PhD Student
  • Mato Lagator, Postdoc
  • Isabella Tomanek, PhD Student (jointly with Guet Group)

Current Projects

  • The rate of adaptive evolution in sexual and asexual populations
  • The evolution of an adaptive heritable immune system in bacteria

Selected Publications

  • Bollback JP, Huelsenbeck JP. 2009. Parallel genetic evolution within and among bacteriophage species of varying degrees of divergence. Genetics 181: 225–234.
  • Bollback JP, Huelsenbeck JP. 2007. Clonal interference is alleviated by high mutation rates in large populations. Molecular Biology and Evoluton 24(6):1397–1406.
  • Bollback JP. 2002. Bayesian model adequacy and choice in phylogenetics. Molecular Biology and Evolution 19 (7): 1171-1180.


Since 2010 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2008–2010 Postdoc, Interdisciplinary Centre for Human and Avian Influenza Research, University of Edinburgh, UK
2004–2008 Postdoc, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
2004 PhD, University of Rochester, USA

Selected Distinctions

2015  ERC Consolidator Grant
2007–2009 Forskningsrådet for Natur og Univers, FNU Grant
2007  Featured in Aktuel Naturvidenskab nr 3 (Current Science)
2006  Forskningsrådet for Sundhed og Sygdom, FSS Grant
1995–1998 Predoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, USA