Xiang-Yi Li

Xiang-Yi Li2018-photo.jpg

SNSF Ambizione fellow

Introduction of personal research interests


I am interested in applying mathematical modelling and computer simulations to study ecological and evolutionary dynamics. I have rewarding experience working together with microbiologists on projects that combine experiments and modelling. For example, in collaboration with the Bosch lab in Kiel University, Germany, we modelled the growth dynamics of two bacteria in co-culture in the form of an evolutionary game, and confirmed experimentally the frequency-dependent bacterial growth rates predicted by the model (Li et al, 2015).  We further clarified the mechanisms of the interesting dynamics and showed that it was caused by the coupling of the lysogenic and lytic life cycles of a bacteriophage (Li et al, 2017). In collaboration with food scientists in the Meng lab in Ocean University of China, we micro-encapsulated the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus with the whey protein (milk whey is also the main ingredient of the famous Swiss drink Rivella) and coated with alginate so that the bacteria can safely pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract despite of the harsh environments with gastric juice and bile solution, until they are released in the small intestine (Chen et al, 2017). Currently, my PhD student Thierry Kuhn and I are collaborating with the lab of Prof. Pilar Junier in University of Neuchâtel. We use computer simulation and experiments to study the interactions between bacteria and fungi and how those interactions affect bacteria dispersal across the fungal hyphae networks. We are interested in the role of different nutrients and their effect on bacteria-fungi interactions. We aim to accurately predict the dispersal pattern of bacteria on the “fungal highway”, and develop strategies to control and manipulate bacterial dispersal taking advantage of the interactions.


My other research interests include modelling sexual selection and sexual conflict, evolutionary game theory, and dispersal. For more information, please visit my research website: http://web.evolbio.mpg.de/~li/



  • Xiang-Yi Li, Cleo Pietschke, Sebastian Fraune, Philipp M. Altrock, Thomas C. G. Bosch, and Arne Traulsen*. Which games are growing bacterial populations playing? Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 12:108, 2015.


  • Xiang-Yi Li, Tim Lachnit, Sebastian Fraune, Thomas CG Bosch, Arne Traulsen, and Michael Sieber*. Temperate phages as self-replicating weapons in bacterial competition. Journal of The Royal Society Interface,14: 20170563, 2017.


  • Hai-Yan Chen, Xiang-Yi Li, Bing-Jie Liu, and Xiang-Hong Meng*. Microencapsulation of lactobacillus bulgaricus and survival assays under simulated gastrointestinal conditions. Journal of Functional Foods, 29: 248–255, 2017.



CV: http://web.evolbio.mpg.de/~li/curriculum-vitae.html


Publication list with links to full text: http://web.evolbio.mpg.de/~li/publications-and-conference.html