Brian D. Wade

Microbial Evolution and Ecology

I'm a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University, where I work in the experimental evolution laboratory of Prof. Richard Lenski. As part of the Lenski team, I'm also associated with the NSF BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at MSU.


I use experimental evolution to study the dynamics of adaptation to abiotic stressors, particularly dessication and UV-C radiation, in bacteria. My study system involves exposing the bacterium Escherichia coli to stress‒growth cycles of desiccation and UV-C in a long-term evolution experiment (~500 generations). The E. coli strain that serves as the ancestor in the experiment is sensitive to desiccation and UV-C, and therefore this system allows me to study de novo evolution of tolerance to these stressors.


Previously, I studied microbes from a variety of environments: microbialite-forming cyanobacteria in the karstic Cuatro Ciénegas Valley of the Mexican Chihuahuan Desert; bacteria in deep surface rocks underlying northwestern New Mexico, USA; and marine and freshwater algae. My research interests include microbial evolution and ecology, geomicrobiology, extremophiles, and astrobiology. My ultimate goal is to synthesize my previous training in ecology and my current training in evolution to better understand microbial ecosystems, both past and present.


(Current as of February 2015)