The great diversity of form, size, colour and function in nature proves the capacity of natural selection to fuel the evolution of new traits. We can find examples of innovations everywhere around us, such as the colourful plumage of male birds to attract females, or the ability of bacteria to metabolize synthetic carbon sources. Innovations are important because they allow organisms bearing them to survive to new challenging conditions. However, understanding the genetic basis of innovations is difficult because the genetic signatures erode with time.
We are interested in deciphering the genetic mechanisms of innovations and, particularly, in understanding how mutational robustness influences innovation. We study the evolution of innovations in real time in the laboratory using bacteria as a model system. Using a combination of computational approaches, experimental evolution and next generation sequencing we aim to understand better the origins of evolutionary innovations.