Thomas Platt, Associate Professor

Thomas Platt

Contact information

131 Ackert Hall
Lab: (785) 532-0404

Lab website:


Ph.D. 2010, Indiana University. Biology.

Area(s) of Specialization

Bacterial genetics; Evolution of microbial interactions, cooperation, and virulence

Research Focus

We study the forces driving the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of pathogenic microbes. A major goal of our research is to develop and empirically test general theory aimed at uncovering what shapes the evolution of virulence and cooperation. Much of our work focuses on pathogens that actively grow and interact both within hosts and environmental reservoirs such as soil and water systems. In particular, we are examining how context dependent competition resulting from fundamental tradeoffs influences disease ecology and pathogen evolution. This work addresses a significant shortcoming of current theory which is largely based on the biology of obligate pathogens and simply does not apply to facultative pathogens. We utilize the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens as a model facultative pathogen that allows for experimental manipulation of the genetic and ecological factors relevant to the costs and benefits associated with being a pathogen. As with many other pathogens, agrobacterial pathogenesis is conferred by a virulence plasmid. Consequently our work also provides new insight into the ecological, evolutionary, and molecular forces driving plasmid dynamics.

Selected Publications

Barton, I.S., Platt, T.G., Rusch, D.B., and Fuqua, C. In Press. Destabilization of the tumor-inducing plasmid from an octopine-type Agrobacterium tumefaciens lineage drives a large deletion in the co-resident At megaplasmid. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. doi: 10.1534/g3.119.400554.

Masigol, M., Fattahi, N., Barua, N., Lokitz, B.S., Retterer, S.T., Platt, T.G., and Hansen, R.R. 2019. Identification of critical surface parameters influencing lectin-mediated capture of bacteria from solution. Biomacromolecules. 20(7): 2852-2863.

van der Vlies, A. J., Barua, N., Nieves-Otero, P.A, Platt, T.G., and Hansen, R.R. 2019. On demand release and retrieval of bacteria from microwell arrays using photodegradable hydrogel membranes. ACS Applied Bio Materials. 2(1): 266-276.

Barton, I.S., Fuqua, C., and Platt, T.G. 2018. Ecological and evolutionary dynamics of a model facultative pathogen: Agrobacterium and crown gall disease of plants. Environmental Microbiology. 20(1): 16-29.

Sung, W., Ackerman, M.S., Dillon, M.M., Platt, T.G., Fuqua, C., Cooper, V.S., and Lynch, M. 2016. Evolution of the Insertion-deletion Mutation Rate Across the Tree of Life. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 6(8): 2583-2591.

Platt, T.G., Morton, E.R., Barton, I.S., Bever, J.D., and Fuqua, C. 2014. Ecological dynamics and complex interactions of Agrobacterium megaplasmids. Frontiers in Plant Science. 5: 635.

Morton, E.R., Platt, T.G., Fuqua, C., and Bever, J.D. 2014. Non-additive costs and interactions alter the competitive dynamics of co-occurring ecologically distinct plasmids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281: 20132173.

Platt, T.G., Fuqua, C., and Bever, J.D. 2012. Resource and competitive dynamics shape the benefits of public goods cooperation in a plant pathogen. Evolution. 66: 1953- 1965.

Platt, T.G., Bever, J.D., and Fuqua, C. 2012. A cooperative virulence plasmid imposes a high fitness cost under conditions which induce pathogenesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 279: 1691-1699.

Bever, J.D., Platt, T.G., and Morton, E.R. 2012. Microbial population and community dynamics on plant roots and their feedbacks on plant communities. Annual Review of Microbiology. 66: 265- 283.

Platt, T.G. and Fuqua, C. 2010. What’s in a name? The semantics of quorum sensing. Trends in Microbiology. 18: 383- 387.

Platt, T.G. and Bever, J.D. 2009. Kin competition and the evolution of cooperation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 24 (7): 370- 377.

For a complete list of publications visit my Google Scholar page