Role of symbioses in the origin of leaf-feeding behavior
As one of the most species-rich animal clades, leaf beetles display remarkable variation in their host-plant breadth, ranging from specialists to browsing generalists. How did microbial symbioses contribute to the radiation of Chrysomelids? And how conserved are these associations across the family?
Evolutionary genomics of a pectinolytic mutualism
Stammera capleta is an obligate pectinolytic symbiont of tortoise leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae: Cissidinae), possessing a minimal metabolism defined by a highly reduced genome. Using comparative and functional genomics, we are interested in the molecular mechanisms that mediate Stammera-host co-evolution, and the metabolic features allowing for such drastic reductive evolution.
Developmental basis of symbiont integration
Understanding how mutualisms are maintained through evolutionary time involves characterizing adaptations in both host and microbe that reflect the symbiotic condition. Which developmental processes and mechanisms underlie the formation of organs to maintain microbial symbionts?