Olga Zhaxybayeva, Ph.D.

Dartmouth College

Olga Zhaxybayeva’s work focuses on how horizontal gene transfer influences (or influenced) the evolution of bacteria and archaea. Her work developing and implementing statistical techniques for monitoring the evolution of all of the genes in a bacterial genome showed that horizontal gene transfer has affected the evolution of much of the genomes of cyanobacteria, thermophilic bacteria and halophilic archaea. This and related work established horizontal gene transfer as an important driver of microbial evolution. Her research plan involves studying gene transfer agents (virus-like particles produced by some bacteria and archaea) to explore the possibility that horizontal gene transfer can provide an evolutionary force favoring cooperation and the emergence of complexity.

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