Date & Time: 11.05.2023, 12:30 – 14:00 p.m.
We are interested in the evolutionary processes that shape mutualisms, with emphasis on why they form and how they facilitate adaptation in animals. Using leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) as a model, my talk will outline the mechanisms by which these insects house and transmit their obligate bacterial and fungal symbionts, and the consequences of coevolution between microbe and host. Leveraging data from genomic and transcriptomic sequencing, microscopy, and bioassays in both laboratory and field, I will address (i) the metabolic factors defining symbioses within the Chrysomelidae, (ii) how variation in these factors shapes the nutritional physiology and defensive biochemistry of the insect host, (iii) the trade-offs governing symbiont localisation and transmission, and, finally, (iv) the dual symbiotic roles that microbes can, and often do, fulfill. Collectively, my aim is to highlight the key role of symbiosis in facilitating adaptation across Earth’s most specios e animal order, the beetles.