Toby Kiers

Professor Microbiology


Toby Kiers happy with symbiotic organisms in background -

Professor in Microbiology at VU University in Amsterdam. Part of the BioRaad to advice the participants of the project: 'Mycelium design with Schizophyllum'

My research investigates how cooperation between species (mutualism) evolves and persists. Why do partners provide services to a host at a cost to themselves? My experimental approach utilizes physiological manipulations to force individuals to 'cheat' - I then monitor partner response to evaluate if (and how) punishment is enacted.

Using this approach, we can study cooperation in diverse systems, including the legume-rhizobia symbiosis and the mycorrhizal symbiosis. 

Current research is exploring the feasibility of extending conclusions derived from laboratory manipulations to other mutualistic systems in the field, such as obligate-pollination mutualisms and ant-plant mutualisms. 

More generally, I am interested in understanding how mutualisms are responding to a rapidly changing world. My ultimate aim is to link environmental changes with the evolutionary dynamics of these widespread partnerships

Found on website of the VU

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  • Toby Kiers


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