Deciphering the genetic and physiological interactions between protists and their associated bacterial communities
There is a growing appreciation of the key roles played by microbial symbiosis in animal evolution. Yet, it remains unknown whether microbial symbiosis played similarly key roles in the evolution of protists and enabled them to adapt to excessive environmental and climatic changes. I study the genetic and functional diversity of the bacterial communities associated with free-living amoebas cultured in different environmental conditions varying the food source, acidity, temperature and exposure to heavy metal pollution.
Experimental evolutionary research on protist-bacteria associations will improve our understanding of how these early life forms co-evolved in varying environments and will contribute to our still limited understanding of how key protist groups will respond to the 21st century global climatic changes.
Cambridge, MA 02138