We want to predict and control microbial evolution.
Breeders have been doing it in animals and plants for centuries.
Why can’t we do it in microbes?
There are two key differences between animal (or plant) breeding and controlling evolution in microbes. In breeding, evolution is driven by pre-existing genetic variation. Evolution in microbes is driven by new mutations. Breeders artificially select for specific phenotypes. Microbial evolution is governed by natural selection. We cannot predict long-term evolution in microbes because we do not know how new mutations will affect the phenotypes that natural selection "cares about" (even in the lab).
In the SKLAB, we look for rules or principles of how new mutations affect phenotypes and fitness in microbes. Our tools are mathematical modeling and experimentation in the model microbes, bacterium E.coli, yeast S.cerevisiae, and alga C. reinhardtii.