Matt Jones

Dr Matt Lloyd Jones

Department: Medical School
Discipline: Biosciences
Research Centre/Unit: Environment and Sustainability Institute, Penryn, Falmouth

Project Summary

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.

Supervisory Team

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

Wider Research Interests

I maintain an interest in microbial invasion ecology (the subject of my PhD) and also have a strong interest in computational approaches to collating and analysing published scientific data in order to pull out generalities. Regarding the latter, I worked briefly at the Environment Agency performing a systematic review of airborne antimicrobial resistance, a report which is due to be published by the UK Government soon.

Authored Publications/Reports

Jones, ML; Ramoneda, J; Rivett DW; Bell, T (26th May 2017) Biotic resistance shapes the influence of propagule pressure on invasion success in bacterial communities., Ecology, 98(7), 1743-1749.

Rivett DW; Jones ML; Ramoneda J; Mombrikotb SB; Ransome E; Bell T (18th February 2018) Elevated success of multispecies bacterial invasions impacts community composition during ecological succession., Ecology Letters, 21(4), 516-524

Vila JCC; Jones ML; Patel M; Bell T; Rosindell J (29th July 2019) Uncovering the rules of microbial community invasions., Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3(8), 1162-1171