dr. hildegard uecker

Stochastic Evolutionary Dynamics

Our research lies at the intersections of evolution with ecology and with medicine. Using mathematical models, we study which factors promote or hamper rapid adaptation to changing environments.

Whether populations succeed in adapting to harsh environmental change or go extinct is one of the key questions of evolutionary biology. The answer is of relevance in very different contexts with opposite goals: in conservation biology (where we hope for adaptation and species persistence) and in medicine or agriculture (where we want to prevent successful adaptation, i.e. the evolution of resistance).

The adaptive process in these (and other) scenarios is often subject to strong stochasticity. Well-adapted genotypes are often initially rare, either because they were selected against in the previous environment and segregate only at low frequency in the population or because they appear de novo through mutation, recombination, horizontal gene transfer etc.. Despite of having a selective advantage, they may therefore suffer stochastic loss and do not establish. Much of our work turns around this stochastic establishment process.

We mostly develop population genetics models but we also work on epidemiological models.

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Dr. Hildegard Uecker

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

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Selected Publications

  • Uecker, H.: Effectively Evolution-proof Antibiotics? Trends in Microbiology (2018)
  • Uecker, H.; Bonhoeffer, S.: Modeling antimicrobial cycling and mixing: Differences arising from an individual-based versus a population-based perspective. Mathematical Biosciences 294, S. 85-91 (2017)
  • Uecker, H.: Evolutionary rescue in randomly mating, selfing, and clonal populations. Evolution 71 (4), S. 845-858 (2017)
  • Uecker, H.; Hermisson, J.: The role of recombination in evolutionary rescue. Genetics 202 (2), S. 721-732 (2016)
  • Uecker, H.; Otto, S. P.; Hermisson, J.: Evolutionary rescue in structured populations. The American Naturalist 183 (1), S. E17-E35 (2014)