The Department of Biology is proud to introduce to you the newest faculty member: Assistant Professor Marcus Dillon.

Marcus Dillon
Dr. Marcus Dillon

Marcus Dillon is an evolutionary geneticist and microbiologist. After growing up in the GTA, he attended Wake Forest University on an athletic scholarship, where he worked with Dr. Clifford Zeyl on evolutionary trade-offs in budding yeast. He went on to receive his PhD in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 under the tutelage of Dr. Vaughn Cooper and studied as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto St. George from 2016-2020. Here, he was mentored by Dr. David Guttman and Dr. Darrell Desveaux.

Dr. Dillon’s research has helped uncover the biological mechanisms underlying genome-wide variation in microbial mutation rates and has revealed the central role of type III secreted effector diversity in the outcomes of host pathogen interactions. His research has been published in a wide range of journals, including Genetics, Evolution, Genome Biology, and Science, and he regularly presents his work at international meetings. Dr. Dillon spends his spare time staying active with friends and family through activities like hiking, tennis, basketball, and every lawn game known to man. Although his competitive running days are now well behind him, he still enjoys turning virtually everything into a competition.

His Research

The emergence of infectious diseases has devastating economic, health, and food security consequences. Research in the Dillon Lab focusses on tracking how novel infectious diseases emerge, identifying genetic loci that direct disease emergence, and characterizing the evolutionary pathways that enable opportunistic pathogens to infect new hosts. We address these problems using a variety of techniques in fields of evolutionary genetics and microbiology, including comparative genomics, bioinformatics, and experimental evolution. Specific projects in the lab include:

  1. Identifying host specificity factors in agricultural pathogens from the genera Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas.
  2. Experimentally characterizing the evolutionary pathways that have enabled Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas species to infect such a broad range of hosts.
  3. Exploring the role of the population genetic environment on the rate and genetic basis of antibiotic resistance evolution.

Our ultimate goal in the Dillon Lab is to characterize the critical molecular pathways involved in disease emergence so that we can develop actionable approaches that protect vulnerable hosts from destructive pathogens.

  • Ho Sung Rhee
  • Baohua Liu