Care was taken to form groups balanced in terms of the students' educational background. This encouraged students to help one another.

All students

Sylvie Estrela


Polymicrobial communities abound in nature and are of major influence on ecosystems, as well as on human health. Both cross-feeding interactions defined as an individual ability to feed on the metabolic products of other individual, as well as cell-to-cell communication mediated by signaling (or cue) molecules, are potentially important mechanisms to stabilize multi-species interactions. However, between species cooperation, i.e. mutualism, is difficult to explain from an evolutionary perspective. My PhD research focuses on developing novel theory that bridges mechanistic approaches with ecology and evolutionary theory to provide new insights into the evolution of social interactions in multi-species microbial communities. More specifically I am interested in understanding the molecular and ecological mechanisms that stabilize metabolic interactions between species. In addition, at a more applied level I hope to apply these predictions to the development of testable medical intervention strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of polymicrobial infections

PhD Project

Supervisor: Sam Brown

Laboratory: Evolutionary Microbiology Group. Institute of Evolutionary Biology. University of Edinburgh

University: School of Biological Sciences. University of Edinburgh


The Role of Metabolism and Ecology in the Emergence of Microbial Communities. University of Edinburgh (2014) pp.156.


Estrela S, Brown SP . Metabolic and demographic feedbacks shape the emergent spatial structure and function of microbial communities. PLOS Computational Biology (2013) 9, e1003036.

Eswarappa SM, Estrela S, Brown SP. Within-host dynamics of multi-species infections: facilitation, competition and virulence. Plos One (2012) 7, e38730.

Estrela S, Trisos C, Brown SP. From metabolism to ecology: cross-feeding interactions shape the balance between polymicrobial conflict and mutualism. American Naturalist (2012) 180, 566-576.

Sylvie Estrela & Ivana Gudelj. Evolution of cooperative cross-feeding could be less challenging than originally thought. Plos One (2010) 5, e14121.