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Assistant Professor, Genetics 

Research Interests


Bacterial evolution, Population genomics, Natural selection, Infectious disease, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM), Antibiotic resistance, Transmissibility, Virulence, Pathogenicity

Lab Website

I am a microbiologist and geneticist with expertise in both computational and experimental approaches. Throughout my Ph.D. and Postdoc training, my research has focused on elucidating the evolutionary dynamics of bacterial pathogens and their consequential impacts on transmission, drug resistance, and treatment outcomes. Some of the major topics I have investigated include: 1) The discovery of a new form of altered drug susceptibility (antibiotic resilience) that M. tuberculosis evolves during clinical treatment, associated with treatment failure of tuberculosis patients (Liu, Science, 2022); 2) Investigating the evolutionary mechanisms underlying a successful sublineage of M. tuberculosis (Liu, Nat Ecol Evol, 2018), as well as the local adaptation of M. tuberculosis on the Tibetan high plateau (Liu, PNAS, 2021); 3) Exploring within-host evolution of M. tuberculosis and the factors underlying emergence of drug-resistant mutants during treatment (Liu, Sci Adv, 2020; Genome Biol, 2017).

Infectious diseases due to highly pathogenic microbes continue to pose a persistent and evolving threat to humans. In this laboratory, we study the evolutionary mechanisms and genetic basis underlying drug resistance and transmissibility in bacterial pathogens, including M. tuberculosis and M. abscessus, among others. Our research strategy involves utilizing bacterial genomes from real-world clinical isolates to identify mutations underlying evolving traits, such as antibiotic resistance, transmission, and virulence. We then employ cutting-edge experimental microbiology methods to dissect the altered bacterial functions responsible for these evolved traits. Through these endeavors, we aim to uncover bacterial processes that can be targeted for the development of new vaccines, therapeutics, and public health intervention strategies.

Mentor Training:

Training Program Affiliations:

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology


Qingyun Liu in UNC Genetics News

Qingyun Liu
  • Genetics