Matti Gralka

Dr Matti Gralka, tenure-track Assistant Professor, Systems Biology Lab

Research Topics

Thanks to recent advances in sequencing technologies, we have a good understanding of the composition of microbial communities from all corners of the world, including animal guts, oceans, or soils. However, we often do not know what individual community members do, how they interact with each other, and how these interactions drive the community dynamics and function, which limits our ability to predict and alter those dynamics. I tackle this problem by combining lab experiments with ecological theory to uncover principles of how microbes work together to drive biogeochemical cycles.

About me

I started as an assistant professor in the A-LIFE department at VU Amsterdam in September 2022. Before moving the Amsterdam, I was a Simons postdoctoral fellow in Marine Microbial Ecology in Otto Cordero’s lab at MIT where I studied the physiology, interactions, and communities of microbes mediating the degradation of biopolymers like chitin in the ocean. I did my PhD in Physics at the University of California Berkeley with Oskar Hallatschek, where I worked on trying to understand how spatial structure affects evolutionary dynamics.

For more information, please visit my personal website.

Key works (full list on my website or Google scholar profile)

  • Gralka, M., Pollak, S., Cordero, O. X. (2022) Fundamental metabolic strategies of heterotrophic bacteria. (in review) link

  • — [Vincent, F., Gralka, M.]*, Schleyer, G., Schatz, D., Cabrera-Brufau, M., Kuhlisch, C., Sichert, A., Vidal-Melgosa, S., Mayers, K., Barak-Gavish, N., Michel Flores, J., Masdeu-Navarro, M., Egge, J.K., Larsen, A., Heheman, J., Marrasé, C., Simó, R., Cordero, O. X., Vardi, A. (2021) Viral infection switches the balance between bacterial and eukaryotic recyclers of organic matter during algal blooms. (accepted) bioRxiv link (*=equal contribution)

  • — [Pollak, S., Gralka, M.]*, Sato, Y., Schwartzman, J., Lu, L. & Cordero, O. X. (2021) Public good exploitation in natural bacterioplankton communities. Science Advances Vol. 7, no. 31, eabi4717 link (*=equal contribution)

  • Gralka, M., Szabo, R., Stocker, R., & Cordero, O. X. (2020) Trophic Interactions and the Drivers of Microbial Community Assembly, Current Biology, 30, R1176–R1188 link

  • Gralka, M. & Hallatschek, O. (2019). Environmental heterogeneity can tip the population genetics of range expansions. eLife, 8, e44359. link

  • Gralka, M., Fusco, D., Martis, S., & Hallatschek, O. (2017). Convection shapes the trade-off between antibiotic efficacy and the selection for resistance in spatial gradients. Physical Biology, 14(2), 045011. link pdf

  • Gralka, M., Stiewe, F., Farrell, F., Moebius, W., Waclaw, B., & Hallatschek, O. (2016). Allele surfing promotes microbial adaptation from standing variation. Ecology Letters, 19(8), 889-898. link pdf

Contact me

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1108, 1081 HZ, Amsterdam
Faculty of Earth and Life Science
Room O|2 01W09
e-mail: m.gralka@vu.nl