Michelle Hays

Fred Hutchinson/ University of Washington, 

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Gene Expression, Cell Cycle & Chromosome Biology

Genetics, Genomics & Evolution (Area Director)

Microbiology, Infection & Immunity

Entry Quarter: Autumn 2013

Lab Information

Advisor: Harmit Malik

Research Summary

Selfish genetic elements exploit host cell machinery for their own reproduction, hurting host fitness in the process. How do host cells evolve to defend themselves against these genetic parasites? The selfish 2-micron plasmid is one example of a selfish genetic element found in many budding yeasts. The plasmid must hijack host cellular machinery to replicate and segregate its genome, which confers a fitness cost to the host. The genetic tractability of the 2- micron and budding yeast make this an ideal system for exploring: 1) how a host and parasite interact 2) through what means host cells can evolve to fight genetic parasites and 3) if these solutions to combating plasmids are recurrently evolving in multiple lineages.